MESSAGE FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Improving Population Health
Helping our members make informed decisions about their individual and family wellness and health care needs is one of many steps Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has taken toward improving the health of our members and the communities we serve. Our programs, partnerships with community organizations and health policy advocacy efforts all aim to improve quality of life. This is one of the tenants of BCBSIL’s promise to stand with our members.
Health literacy is at the foundation. Education on medical conditions and how changes in diet, physical activity and ways of thinking can make a positive difference is just the start. As an example, BCBSIL sponsors Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Nutrition Education Program which teaches young children about healthy eating habits by engaging them in preparing their own meals. We have continued our partnership with bike sharing company Divvy to promote wellness throughout Chicago. Benefits of cycling include increased cardiovascular fitness and decreased stress levels. In addition, the Springfield Urban League’s Wellness on Wheels mobile health clinic engages communities with health disparities above the national average. They provide health screenings and prevention services at community health events as well as organize more direct approaches in neutral locations such as local barbershops, beauty salons, currency exchanges and soup lines to reach the targeted population.
Celebrating the good that happens in the community is also important to BCBSIL. Every year, the Bud Billiken Parade – our nation’s largest African-American parade – takes place on the south side of Chicago right before kids go back to school from summer break. It celebrates youth, education and the African-American life. BCBSIL takes this opportunity to directly engage attendees through distributing health literacy information, wellness activities and special “senior seating” tents, providing parade viewing shelter from the sun and heat.
Our programs, partnerships with community organizations and health policy advocacy efforts all aim to improve quality of life. This is one of the tenants of BCBSIL’s promise to stand with our members.
With violence now being recognized as a public health issue, there is increased focus on its mental impact as well as physical impact. BCBSIL promotes safe environments through the initiatives of community organizations. UCAN works with youths in North Lawndale to provide alternatives to reduce cycles of violence and decrease exposure to traumatic situations. Youth Guidance’s BAM (Becoming A Man) and WOW (Working on Womanhood) programs work with youths caught in violent environments in many Chicago neighborhoods. Improving their decision-making skills, emotional regulation and interpersonal competencies help youths become successful socially, emotionally and academically.
Within our own walls, our employees are doing their part to improve population health. Whether it’s through donation of their time, talent or treasure, it’s all about giving back and helping others. Over 2,500 employee volunteers have given more than 53,000 hours of their time to support 668 nonprofits and 532 events in 2017. Our volunteer of the year, Tracy Trice-Watts is an outstanding example of our employees’ commitment to the communities in which we work and play. Tracy is a life coach for young couples dealing with the joys and challenges of raising toddlers, tutors first graders in reading and math skills, and volunteers with six different organizations. In addition, BCBSIL collaborates with doctors and hospitals to improve our health care system through a variety of programs and resources focused on driving down unnecessary health care cost and increasing access to care.
At BCBSIL, we recognize that our physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual health all contribute to our well-being. As the largest insurer in Illinois, it is essential that we are part of the solution to improving population health and making the health care system work. Please take a moment to enjoy learning more about the highlights of our community partnerships and ways in which we contribute to making a healthier Illinois.
President, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois