CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The newest health care affordability report in a series from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee takes a detailed look at the value of health care across the state. Because Tennessee ranks near the bottom on numerous health surveys, the report highlights the various factors that affect health status, the value received from the health care delivery system, and the impact on the affordability of health care plans.

The research study was authored by Dr. Steven Coulter, senior vice president and chief medical officer, and Bill Cecil, director of health policy research, for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

"There is a significant relationship between the overall level of health care investment and the actual return in health," Coulter explained. "You would think that the more invested in health care, the healthier the population. Actually, the reverse is true. The higher the level of health care investment, the lower the level of return."

Research shows that the health care industry has grown faster in Tennessee than in any other state. Yet Tennessee ranks 44th nationwide in mortality, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

"The Institute of Medicine and many other sources are now confirming that overspending on medical services may actually be harmful to a personís health," Coulter said.

Despite this fact, Tennesseans resort to the health care delivery system to resolve lifestyle issues that the system cannot fix, according to Cecil.

The CDC estimates that access to health care represents a potential influence of only 10 percent on a personís health status. However, this is the area where 88 percent of national health expenditures are spent. In comparison, Americans spend only 4 percent on health behaviors, such as diet and exercise, which contribute to 50 percent of overall health.

"Burdening the health care delivery system in this way is expensive," Cecil said. "It limits the ability to build an effective way to address the relatively lower state of health in Tennessee.Ē

"To sum it up, when it comes to medical care, more doesnít necessarily mean better," Coulter said.

By researching the industry, working with physicians, and informing and educating the health care consumer, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is working to curb the rising cost of health care and maintain the affordability of health plans for Tennesseans, Coulter said.

A printed report may be requested by calling (423) 535-5750.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.