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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana Releases State Health Index

Indiana ranks 43rd Nationwide in Health Status; Anthem Develops Innovative

Program to Track and Improve the Health of Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana today launched its new State Health Index, a program that incorporates public health data to identify and help address major health issues in the state. Anthem has assembled a dedicated team to collaborate with local and state officials, as well as community organizations, to research the reasons behind the prevalent health deficiencies and to design policy solutions and implement or enhance programs aimed at improving overall health in the state.

Developed from data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Health Index ranks Indiana 43rd in the nation based on a comprehensive assessment of 23 measures of health status. Anthem has selected the following measures of improvement for its focus during the first several years of the State Health Index program as they have the most potential to be positively influenced by the actions of the company: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birthweight infant rate, adult influenza immunization rate, adult pneumoncoccal immunization rate, physical activity levels, cigarette smoking rate, diabetes in adult population and heart disease death rate.

"As the largest health insurer in the state, we have a unique responsibility to understand and improve not only the health of our members, but also the overall health of the communities in which they live," said Robert W. Hillman, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana president. "The State Health Index will provide Indiana and our public and private partners-state and local government, insurers, health care professionals and consumers-with a roadmap to guide our work to improve the overall health of our state."

The State Health Index has revealed three particular public health issues to be addressed in Indiana: the rate of low birth weight babies, the prevalence of cigarette smoking, (only one state has a higher smoking rate) and the number of adults who do not receive influenza immunizations.

To help reverse these trends, last year Anthem provided a multi-year grant to the March of Dimes for their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Family Support Program at five hospitals around Indiana. The program is designed to improve communication between NICU staff and parents, reduce the rate of repeat preterm births and decrease the financial impact on families and on the health care system. Studies show that reducing the rate of low birthweight babies by 1 percent in Indiana would save more than $35 million in medical costs associated with treating these infants during their first year of life.

For the last decade, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has provided funding so that the Visiting Nurse Service can offer flu shots at a reduced cost to the community. In past years, more than 60 thousand Hoosiers have taken advantage of this program, which will continue once again during this year's flu season to combat health complications arising from influenza. Public health data shows that it costs more than $100 million to treat the symptoms of influenza in the over-65 population in Indiana.

Finally, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield this year worked with the Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation and others to support anti-smoking efforts and to speak out against marketing efforts designed to promote tobacco usage among young women. According to published studies, by reducing the number of smokers by 1 percent, there would be approximately 12,000 fewer smokers in the state which would result in a $30 million savings in medical costs associated with smoking-related illnesses.

"Anthem shares our commitment to improving public health," said Judy Monroe, M.D., Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health. "Whether the issue is childhood obesity, low birth weight babies or the state's high smoking rate, Anthem has been a willing partner. We'll have the greatest impact on public health when the private, public and non-profit sectors work together."

"The guiding measures we have selected for the State Health Index provide a broad snapshot of Indiana's overall health," said Wes Wong, M.D. who leads Indiana's State Health Index efforts. "The State Heath Index will serve as a tangible scorecard of the most pressing health issues, which will enable us to work with local and state officials and health care providers to design programs that will improve health across our state."

The State Health Index is a companion program to Anthem's Member Health Index, an initiative announced earlier this year, through which Indiana uses the data it collects on its own members to track its progress in helping to improve the quality of health care they receive as well as health outcomes.

"Together, these innovative programs clearly demonstrate Anthem's commitment to measurably improving the lives of its members and the health of its communities," said Angela F. Braly, president and CEO of WellPoint, Inc., Anthem's parent company. "Our company has made an unprecedented commitment to improving health on both the member and state levels, and we have set goals that are both ambitious and transparent. We look forward to using initiatives such as the Member and State Health Indices to drive innovation in the industry and help improve health care across the United States."

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana is a subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc. whose mission is to improve the lives of the people it serves and the health of its communities. It is the largest health benefits company in terms of commercial membership in the United States, and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, serving members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as Blue Cross Blue Shield in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), Wisconsin; and through UniCare. Through its nationwide networks, the company delivers a number of leading health benefit solutions through a broad portfolio of integrated health care plans and related services, along with a wide range of specialty products such as life and disability insurance benefits, pharmacy benefit management, dental, vision, behavioral health benefit services, as well as long term care insurance and flexible spending accounts. More information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is available at

SOURCE Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana
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