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WellPoint Launches New Innovative Web Tools for Members and Health Care Professionals

Nation's Largest Health Insurer Introduces New Health Assessment to Help Members Make Healthy Choices, Manage Personal Health Risks Company Unveils Cultural and Linguistic Tools for Physicians to Help Improve Culturally-Sensitive Communication with Patients, Reduce Health Disparities

INDIANAPOLIS, June 6 /PRNewswire/ -- WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP) has launched new, innovative Web tools nationwide, including a highly interactive online health assessment for members and an industry-leading health disparities resource center for health care professionals.

WellPoint's new Web-based MyHealth Assessment makes it easier than ever for members to understand their personal health risks and improve their overall health status by making healthy choices.

The secure online health questionnaire, powered by WebMD, helps members to identify and understand their personal risk factors, including family history and lifestyle behaviors. Upon completing the online questionnaire, members receive a personalized report with recommendations to help them manage, reduce or eliminate their personal health risks and embrace healthier lifestyle behaviors. For example, a member with high cholesterol will receive a personalized report that explains the risk of high cholesterol, defines a member's target cholesterol level, and outlines practical steps a member can take to lower his or her cholesterol -- from limiting high-fat foods to using healthier cooking techniques.

WellPoint first introduced its health assessment in 2005. Last year, the company launched a Spanish version of the Web-based tool. Now, WellPoint is introducing an enhanced version of its health assessment that includes a broader set of risk factors, health conditions and unique features, providing even more value for members.

"MyHealth Assessment helps our members gain a greater understanding of their health risks and delivers the tools and motivation to help them manage those risks," said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer, WellPoint, Inc. "Enhancing our online tools is one way WellPoint is working to reduce the impact of chronic illness, which can lower health care costs overall."

WellPoint also has organized all health tools and content that are relevant to a member's personal health profile in a "one-stop shop" online. Based on their personal risk factors -- for example, depression, blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar -- members are guided to risk-specific resources designed to help them effectively manage their personal health risks. These online resources include journals, worksheets, online communities, and interactive tools and programs.

For physicians and other health care professionals, WellPoint has launched a new online resource center on health disparities. This innovative Web site provides physicians with a comprehensive set of cultural and linguistic tools for understanding and addressing racial and cultural health disparities in their communities. Located on the provider home page of WellPoint's respective health plans, the online resource center highlights specific information about health disparities in each of the markets served by WellPoint.

The new Web site offers physicians the latest research on health care disparities, tools for communicating with culturally and linguistically diverse populations, links to training courses, and information on federal guidelines for providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

Studies show that cultural and linguistic factors can have a significant impact on the quality of care received by patients. For example, a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that many racial and ethnic minorities and people of a lower socioeconomic status are less likely to receive childhood immunizations as well as screening and treatment for heart risk factors.

"One of WellPoint's overarching goals is to significantly reduce health disparities between different segments of the population by 2010," Nussbaum said. "We are committed to working with physicians to address these issues and ensure that all members have access to the best care available."

The new Web site includes health education and disease-specific materials in both Spanish and Chinese, as well as materials written specifically for low-literacy readers. The site offers resources and tips for the provision of language translation during an office visit and links to assessment tools that will help physicians better understand the demographics and psychographics of the populations they serve.

"With our comprehensive networks of physicians, 35 million members across the nation, and a commitment to innovation, WellPoint is uniquely positioned to deliver what are among the most valuable, user-friendly content and tools available on the Internet today," said Jason Gorevic, senior vice president, chief marketing and product officer, and head of WellPoint's Innovation Incubator, an entrepreneurial effort launched by the company in 2006 to advance innovative solutions to today's most complex health care issues. "WellPoint is committed to becoming the most trusted choice for consumers and a leader in affordable quality care, in part, by serving as a catalyst to improve the essential relationship between patient and doctor."

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint's mission is to improve the lives of the people it serves and the health of its communities. WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of commercial membership in the United States. 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. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, WellPoint is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and serves its 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. Additional information about WellPoint is available at www.wellpoint.com.

About Health Disparities in America

According to the National Institutes of Health, racial and ethnic health disparities are "large, persistent, and even increasing in the United States." Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans are particularly impacted by the largest incidences of cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and HIV-AIDS. The reasons for these disparities are numerous but they include the lack of insurance, legal barriers, language and cultural barriers, a scarcity of providers, lack of transportation and a lack of diversity in the health care workforce.

Disparity Facts:

  • African Americans have both a higher overall incidence and a higher death rate than any other racial or ethnic group.
  • The cancer death rate for African Americans is 35 percent higher than the rate for whites.
  • Hispanics have higher rates of cervical, gallbladder and stomach cancer than whites.
  • Coronary heart disease is more prevalent (20 percent higher) among blacks compared with whites.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
  • Nationally, African Americans age 20 and older are twice as likely as whites to have diabetes, while Hispanics are 1.9 times more likely to have diabetes.
  • The incidence of diabetes among American Indians and Alaskan Natives is more than twice that of the total population.
  • Nationally, the death rate from AIDS for African Americans is eight times that for whites and three times that for Hispanics.

SOURCE WellPoint, Inc.

CONTACT: Media, Todd Siesky, +1-317-488-6548, or Investors, Michael Kleinman, +1-317-488-6713, both of WellPoint, Inc.

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