When it comes to improving the health of local communities, one size fits none. The health challenges faced by people in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are distinctly different than those faced by residents of Boise, Idaho. The obstacles to healthier living in Trenton, New Jersey, can’t be grouped with the issues facing communities in Honolulu, Hawaii. But one thing is true across every community in the United States: there is a locally-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) company working to make a positive impact on the health of all residents.
The BCBS system is uniquely positioned to address health needs at a community level. Having independent, locally-operated companies in all 50 states and Puerto Rico allows us to avoid the pitfalls of broad, templated programs that overlook area-specific issues and enables us to commit to communities on a more personal level. After all, we call those communities home too. We believe that by working together at a local level, our health initiatives can achieve more.
Each year, highlights from the BCBS companies’ community programs are featured in the Investing in America’s Health report. From community-based grants and sponsorships, to educational programs and health initiatives, the 36 BCBS companies continue to demonstrate dedication to investments designed to help us all become healthier together. Those investments totaled nearly $350 million last year.
These larger efforts are punctuated – and made all the more meaningful - by the individual contributions of BCBS employees. In 2015, the BCBS workforce personally donated more than $10 million of their own money and volunteered nearly 400,000 hours of their time to help make a difference in the communities where they live and work.
As the new report details, combating childhood obesity and diabetes and supporting needs related to behavioral and mental health came to the forefront in BCBS community investments last year. The report also reaffirms the importance of investing in safety-net clinics, programs that address opioid abuse, and the long-term benefits of school-based health education and teaching young people the power of prevention to keep them healthier longer.
Improving healthcare is a major challenge, but if we work together, we can meet it head on. BCBS companies have been working hard for American communities for more than 87 years because we don’t just want you to live, we want you to live well.
We’ll be showcasing many of these programs here throughout the year, so be sure to check back to see how this movement comes to life on a local level. To learn more about how BCBS companies are using the Power of Blue to make a meaningful impact in the communities we serve, download the full Investing in America’s Health Report.