U.S. News and Aetna Foundation Release Inaugural Healthiest Communities Rankings

WASHINGTON--U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in rankings and civic journalism, in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna, today announced the inaugural Healthiest Communities rankings. The new report evaluated nearly 3,000 communities nationwide across 10 categories, from education and population health to infrastructure and economy. In addition to assessing which communities offer their citizens the greatest opportunity to live a productive, healthy life, the rankings offer insight into the best approaches for improving public health that can be shared and implemented across the country.

"For nearly thirty years, U.S. News has evaluated hospitals, colleges and other sectors for the benefit of consumers, recognizing the importance of access to trusted, in-depth information," said Eric Gertler, chairman of U.S. News. "Healthiest communities is an extension of that effort, giving citizens, community leaders and policy-makers the tools to assess health in their communities and develop a blueprint for positive change."

In addition to an overall ranking of the top 500 communities, four peer groupings were developed based on counties' urban-rural status as tied to population density and the robustness of their economies. The peer groups assure fair comparisons between communities and are categorized by: urban high-performing, urban up-and-coming, rural high-performing and rural up-and-coming. An Honor Roll was also developed that highlights 36 top-performing communities in each peer group from the nine U.S. Census regions.

"Research has shown that in the United States, your ZIP code is a greater predictor of your life expectancy than your genetic code. In other words, where you live has a significant impact on your overall health," said Mark T. Bertolini, chairman of the Aetna Foundation and chairman and CEO of Aetna. "Our work with U.S. News will provide communities with data that can help them better understand opportunities for improvement, as well as inspire ideas for change by showcasing the best practices of communities across the country."