Author With Longevity Secrets Seeks To Apply Lessons To Millions
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
What if you could simultaneously reduce health care costs by 40 percent and increase a population’s life expectancy? You’d say you’d found the Fountain of Youth!
Dan Buettner, author of the New York Times bestseller Blue Zones, did it. No, he didn’t actually find the Fountain of Youth, he says he reduced health care costs by 40 percent and extended the life expectancy of the people living in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Partnering with AARP in 2009, he implemented the lifestyle lessons he’d learned from hundreds of centenarians around the world who were discovered living in “Blue Zones,” communities with unusually high numbers of people over 100.
Buettner explains the multifaceted approach to extending life, noting, “There’s no silver bullet to keep death and the diseases of old age at bay but instead it’s silver buckshot.”
“The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron or run marathons. Instead, their environments nudge them into moving without thinking about it,” he adds.
After the success of that pilot program, Buettner partnered with Healthways and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to expand the Blue Zones Project to 17 cities in California and Iowa, reaching hundreds of thousands of people. Next stop: millions.
On October 9, 2014 at 2:00 Eastern, Buettner and Wellmark EVP Laura Jackson will join me for a live discussion about the expansion of the program and the early results. Tune in right here then to watch the interview live.
More about Blue Zones:
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive—both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
New York Times best-selling author and National Geographic Fellow has delivered more than 3,000 speeches to audiences worldwide. His TED Talk “How to live to be 100+” has been viewed over 2 million times and his New York Times Sunday Magazine article, “The Island Where People Forget to Die” was the second most popular article of 2012. Dan has Keynoted speeches for Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative, Google Zeitgeist, TEDMED and many more nationally renowned conferences. He has been featured twice on Oprah and has received an Emmy award for television production.
In 2009, Dan and his partner, AARP, applied principles of The Blue Zones to Albert Lea, Minnesota and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs by some 40%. He’s currently working with Healthways to implement the Blue Zones Project in 17 cities throughout America.
More about Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield:
Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Laura joined Wellmark in 2002, and served as the senior vice president of Human Resources.
In the fall of 2008, she led the development of an expanded strategy to collaboratively build a sustainable health care system in Iowa and South Dakota. This ultimately means that the average increase in health care costs for our members will be equal to the Consumer Price Index, a standard measure of inflation. As a result, she was appointed to executive vice president, Health Care Strategy and Policy.
Another major component of Jackson’s responsibility is the Blue Zones Project announced in September of 2011, as a cornerstone of the Healthiest State Initiative launched by Governor Branstad in August of 2011. The Blue Zones Project seeks to help all Iowans live longer, happier lives with lower rates of chronic disease and higher quality of life by applying the learnings from the New York Times bestselling book, “The Blue Zones — Lessons for Living Longer, from the People Who’ve Live the Longest.” This project brings common elements into our everyday environment through a series of small evidenced-based changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice.
Currently, as Executive Vice President, Health Care Innovation & Business Development, Laura is responsible for sales, marketing, public relations, management and compensation of the provider network, pharmacy, health and care management, wellness, and health care sustainability and strategy. The combination of responsibilities under Laura’s leadership allows complete integration and collaboration to ensure holistic solutions are applied to meet customer needs.
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