INDIANAPOLIS – October 15, 2008 – WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP), the nation’s largest health insurance company in terms of medical membership; the WellPoint Foundation, one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States; and the X PRIZE Foundation, the nation’s pre-eminent philanthropic organization focused on innovation through competition, today announced a landmark collaboration to develop a $10 million or more competition designed to generate new ways to address the nation’s serious health care system challenges.
“WellPoint and its Foundation recognize the challenges facing our health care system are substantial, which is why it’s critical for health benefits companies, health care providers, government leaders, and consumers to work together to identify real-world solutions that will create the most benefit for all Americans,” said Angela F. Braly, president and CEO of WellPoint and member of the WellPoint Foundation board of directors.
Braly added that although WellPoint has made great progress in health care innovation through solutions that address transparency, affordability, access and care quality, “we’ve chosen to partner with the X PRIZE Foundation and solicit the best ideas from all parties because we believe that the stakes are too high and the opportunity too great to not do everything we can with any and all willing partners that may identify the next great solution in health care.”
As part of this groundbreaking collaboration, WellPoint and the X PRIZE Foundation will solicit participation from employers, health care providers, consumers, government partners and any other interested parties to develop competition guidelines that reflect the health care industry’s most pressing challenges. In addition, WellPoint has committed to test the selected finalists’ entries in its state markets, in order to test their ability to result in viable, creative and achievable health care system changes. Transparency will be emphasized throughout the process, from development of the prize to the conclusion of the competition. All results will be shared publicly, with the knowledge gained considered non-proprietary.
An X PRIZE competition awards a minimum of $10 million to the first team to achieve a specific goal set by the X PRIZE Foundation. Rather than awarding money to honor past achievements or directly funding research, an X PRIZE incites innovation by tapping into the competitive and entrepreneurial spirit of individuals and teams to revolutionize industries for the benefit of humanity.
“We believe significant innovation is achieved when companies and individuals are motivated by the chance to compete among their peers to design and implement groundbreaking solutions to the significant challenges facing us,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, X PRIZE Foundation chairman and CEO. “After launching competitions for sub-orbital flight, lunar exploration, rapid human genome sequencing and a 100 mpg car, we have decided to tackle a new, immense challenge: America’s health care system. WellPoint and the WellPoint Foundation are the right partners for this venture and we are excited by the prospect of more companies joining our team.”
This unique approach to tackling the nation’s health care system’s challenges drew praise from the business community. “We should look for every opportunity to drive down inefficiencies, to try new things, and to pilot different initiatives and not be afraid to restructure them or retool them as we go along,” said Virginia Proestakes, health benefits program leader for GE. “I think the time is right for innovation and bright, new, imaginative ideas, which is why a health care X PRIZE is so important to us at GE.”
Public policy leaders agreed that this approach could yield substantial results. Former Speaker of the U.S. House and founder of the Center for Health Transformation, Newt Gingrich, said that the proposed approach is “going to generate a whole new generation of conversation. And you’re going to have thousands of people talking among themselves about the fact that the X PRIZE Foundation and the WellPoint companies have come together to fundamentally rethink the financing and payment of health care. That is such a profound application of the prize concept to social public policy that I think it’s a terrific breakthrough.”
“I am pleased to be a part of this WellPoint/X PRIZE health care competition,” said former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. “I see it as a way for maximizing the involvement of the American people in two of the thorniest problems in health care – payments and delivery. The result of this could positively impact the direction of health care reform in the next decades.”
Key health care leaders also endorsed the proposed competition. “People who become nurses, medical technicians, doctors and pharmacists are in this area of work for one primary reason: it feels good to make people better,” said NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital President and CEO Dr. Herbert Pardes. “If you then pull them together and say ‘can we find ways of giving people better treatment, more patient-focused care and save the nation some money in doing it,’ then they’re going to feel terrific, everybody will be better for it, and the competition authors can take enormous credit for stimulating a very productive movement and idea.”
Another leading health care expert, Westchester Medical Group President Dr. Simeon Schwartz, agreed that such a competition could lead to dramatic improvements. “The only way that we will achieve fundamental change in the health care system is to reach a consensus for meaningful change largely supported by the public. We need to refocus the public on the redesign of our delivery system and on improving the value in health care. I believe that the prize can generate the interest necessary to do just that.”
At this time, WellPoint, the WellPoint Foundation and the X PRIZE Foundation are announcing their intention to collaborate to develop a prize; the actual award amount, competition rules and guidelines are expected to be finalized in early 2009. The X PRIZE Foundation, along with noted experts in the field, will independently lead the competition. WellPoint has agreed to test the viability of selected solutions in its markets.
To learn more about the competition, see what key opinion leaders are saying about it, and to participate in the development of the prize, please visit www.xprize.org/wellpoint.
About WellPoint, Inc.
WellPoint, Inc. is the largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership in the United States. 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 the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee 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 the WellPoint Foundation
About the WellPoint Foundation, Inc.
The WellPoint Foundation, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization wholly funded by WellPoint, Inc. Through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes WellPoint’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that WellPoint’s affiliate health plans serve. With combined assets of $200 million, the Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to reduce the number of uninsured as well as organizations that promote the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual associate giving campaign and provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation please visit www.wellpointfoundation.org.
About the X PRIZE Foundation
The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured the world’s attention when the Burt Rutan-led team, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private spaceship to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for suborbital spaceflight. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation and its partner BT Global Services are creating prizes in Space and Ocean Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education and Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition.
For more information, please visit www.xprize.org.