Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index℠ | Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index℠

Published September 4, 2018
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A Comprehensive Measure of America’s Health

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index is a unique health metric that provides a better understanding about which diseases and conditions most impact Americans’ overall quality of life. By identifying more than 200 health condition categories affecting Americans, the BCBS Health Index provides a view of the health and wellness of a population down to the county level.

Powered by data from more than 41 million BCBS commercially insured members per year from birth to age 64, this extensive resource brings a unique contribution to other available health data to support national and local discussions about how to improve health, health policy and healthcare practice in the U.S. The BCBS Health Index is part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies’ commitment to improving the health of all Americans by uniting policymakers, community leaders, healthcare professionals and business leaders around data-driven insights to spark real change across the nation.

How the BCBS Health Index Is Calculated

The BCBS Health Index provides a comprehensive measure of health by quantifying how more than 200 health conditions affect the health and well-being of commercially insured Americans. The BCBS Health Index assigns defined populations in the United States a health index score between 0 and 1, where 1 represents optimal health and anything less than 1 represents the adverse impact of illness or disease on longevity and quality of life. For example, a health index score of 0.9 indicates that, on average, that population is living at 90% of its optimal health. In other words, the population could gain up to 10% in healthy lifespan by addressing the top health conditions impacting their area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is “optimal health”?

Optimal health is the number of years a person could live if he or she did not experience the disability and increased risk of death associated with adverse health conditions. Disability refers to the reduced quality of life associated with each of the more than 200 condition categories, and its impact on health leverages a widely accepted calculation created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

What data is used in the BCBS Health Index and how was it constructed?

The BCBS Health Index is informed by de-identified data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Axis®, the powerful BCBS national data repository. 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 define condition categories and measure their disabling affects.

Does the Index include data from Medicaid and Medicare?

The BCBS Health Index is derived from the claims data of more than 41 million BCBS commercially insured members per year, with all identifying information removed. There are plans to integrate data from Medicare and other government programs over time as we continue to advance this new health measurement. Despite its focus on the commercially insured population, the BCBS Health Index results serve as a compelling proxy measure of a county’s population health more broadly.

How is the BCBS Health Index different from other population health measurements?

The BCBS Health Index has two key defining factors: 1) It is derived from actual healthcare experiences (i.e., medical claims) that are unique to individuals rather than general population statistics and self-reported survey data; 2) It considers more than 200 health condition categories affecting Americans. The BCBS Health Index brings a unique contribution to other available health data by further informing where to focus efforts and resources to improve the overall health of America.