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WellPoint Joins Forces with The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center to Raise Awareness of Smoking Cessation and Avoidance

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 29, 2004--WellPoint Health Networks Inc. (NYSE:WLP) today announced a program with The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) at the University of California, San Francisco to raise awareness of smoking cessation and avoidance. This marks WellPoint's commitment to assure quality and value for members through meaningful involvement with its trusted partners.

"Our collaboration with The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center reflects our continuing effort to recognize, assess and promote quality health care in America," said Leonard D. Schaeffer, chairman and chief executive officer of WellPoint. The project further allows SCLC to work with health care professionals and institutions in identifying patients who smoke and steering them into treatment. "We can make a significant impact on our nation's health by working with WellPoint's vast membership base," said Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., director of The Smoking Cessation Leadership Center.

WellPoint and SCLC aim to improve the health of members and patients. Smoking is one area of concentration, as it carries a number of ill economic and health implications:

    --  An estimated 46 million Americans smoke and 70 percent have
        reported that they want to quit

    --  Smoking costs $75.5 billion in medical expenditures annually

    --  Workers who smoke have greater absenteeism, represent lost
        productivity and incur excess annual medical expenditures

    --  Smoking contributes to heart disease, chronic lung disease,
        various cancers and even death

Studies show that smoking cessation can decrease a smoker's chance of a heart attack; improve lung and circulation functions; and reduce risk of coronary heart disease and cancer. A collaboration of national resources between WellPoint and SCLC will address the following as they relate to smoking:

    --  Provide access to the most recent and relevant data

    --  Offer best practices in smoking avoidance and cessation to its
        members

    --  Strengthen and enhance programs for those with chronic illness

    --  Commit to working with the academic and scientific
        communities, as well as policy research foundations, to
        improve research

The Last Cigarette is WellPoint's existing voluntary health improvement program surrounding smoking cessation and smoking avoidance. It offers a rich variety of tools to assist members in cessation and to educate them to avoid tobacco.

"This program will provide WellPoint members with the health improvement resources and personal support they need to achieve their health goals," said Woodrow Myers, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer for WellPoint.

WellPoint Health Networks Inc. serves the health care needs of more than 15.3 million medical members and approximately 46 million specialty members nationwide through Blue Cross of California, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin, HealthLink and UNICARE. Visit WellPoint on the Web at www.wellpoint.com. Blue Cross of California, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The SCLC is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program office. The SCLC works with a wide range of health-related groups to increase cessation rates, including the American Dental Hygienists Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Joint Commission on Healthcare Accreditation, and nursing organizations. Additional information can be found on the SCLC Web site, http://smokingcessationleadership.ucsf.edu/index.html.htm.


    CONTACT: WellPoint Health Networks Inc.
             Kellie Bernell, 805-557-6755 (Media)
             kellie.bernell@wellpoint.com

    SOURCE: WellPoint Health Networks Inc.
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