New Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index Identifies Top Five Conditions Nationwide Affecting the Health of Commercially Insured; Links Better Health to Better Economy | Blue Cross Blue Shield

New Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index Identifies Top Five Conditions Nationwide Affecting the Health of Commercially Insured; Links Better Health to Better Economy

Moody’s analysis of Index finds direct link between a population’s health and a growing economy, higher incomes and lower unemployment

WASHINGTON – Today, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) launched the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health IndexSM (BCBS Health Index) – a first-of-its-kind measurement of health for nearly every county in America. The BCBS Health Index identifies the health conditions with the greatest impact on the commercially insured and – paired with an analysis by Moody’s Analytics – how those conditions impact the economic well-being of communities.

The BCBS Health Index, powered by de-identified data from more than 40 million commercially insured members of BCBS companies, finds 1) depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, 2) hypertension, 3) diabetes, 4) high cholesterol and 5) substance use disorders are the top five conditions nationally, causing approximately 30 percent of commercially insured Americans’ overall reduction in health. 

An analysis of the BCBS Health Index by Moody’s Analytics also found a direct link between healthy people and a healthy economy with healthier counties having lower unemployment and higher incomes. When compared to counties with a median BCBS Health Index result, counties within the top 10 percent had:

  • A per capita income $3,700 higher
  • A 10-year economic growth of 3.5 percent higher
  • An unemployment rate half a point lower

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are committed to transforming our healthcare system and the health of our nation through actionable data,” said Scott Serota, president and CEO for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). “This Index uses the breadth and depth of BCBS data to bring critical health insights to policymakers, community leaders, business leaders and healthcare professionals, helping them further focus efforts to improve their communities’ health.”

“The BCBS Health Index shows that health and the economy’s performance go hand in hand,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics. “Policymakers can use the BCBS Health Index to better understand how health outcomes impact economic growth.”

As a comprehensive measurement of actual healthcare experiences, the BCBS Health Index was designed to support national and local discussions about how to improve American health policy and practice. It quantifies how more than 200 common diseases and condition categories affect overall health and wellness by assigning each county a health impact measure between 0 and 1, designating the proportion of optimal health reached by the county’s population. Each county’s BCBS Health Index impact measure and top five impacting conditions can be found at

“This Index provides a sharpened focus on the local-level understanding of health so that we can collaborate on solutions to meet unique community needs while improving our nation’s health as a whole,” stated Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO, Independence Blue Cross and chairman of the BCBSA Board of Directors. “The BCBS Health Index is another example of how the 36 independent BCBS companies come together to improve the health of all Americans.”

Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer for BCBSA, echoed, “By harnessing the data of the country’s largest healthcare system, the BCBS Health Index presents tremendous potential for business leaders, medical professionals and policymakers to have data-driven conversations about how to enhance overall quality of life."

For additional information regarding the BCBS Health Index, please visit

BCBS Health Index Methodology

The BCBS Health Index is informed by data from Blue Cross Blue Shield Axis®, the BCBS companies’ industry-leading data capability. It is also a result of collaboration with Blue Health Intelligence®, which provided analytical support, and consultation with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington in Seattle, that helped BCBS in defining condition categories and measuring their disabling affects.

Using blinded claims data from more than 40 million commercially insured members of BCBS companies, ICD-9 diagnoses were mapped to over 200 health condition categories. The impact of each condition was determined based on the years lost due to the risk of premature death and the disabling effects of illness or disease. These years of life lost were subtracted from the optimum life expectancy (OLE) of a given member assuming no health conditions and then divided by OLE to get an estimate of health between 0 and 1 with 1 corresponding to optimal health, defined as the absence of any currently known conditions or risks associated with potential adverse health impacts.  A value less than one represents the proportion of future healthy life for that member based on his or her diagnosed condition(s). These individual level estimates are then aggregated to create a health score for the population. 

The formal calculation is [OLE – (Mortality + Disability)] / OLE, where “OLE” is a person’s optimum life expectancy derived from an actuarial life table, “mortality”  is “years of life lost” due to risk of premature death, and “disability” is years of living with a disability.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides health care insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health Indexsm. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out our blog.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.