Bringing wellbeing within reach of all Minnesotans

We want to bring wellbeing within reach for everyone in Minnesota. This report shows how our state’s health insurers are working toward that goal today. We’re excited to share with you the important work of our community partners in Bridges to Wellbeing. Here you will read about:bridges-graphic

  • Breathe Free North and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. How young people from the North Side of Minneapolis are making their community healthier by making their government change the laws.
  • Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood and HealthPartners. Helping one neighborhood’s little children succeed in school — and changing the definition of “health.”
  • Dakota County and Medica. How social workers and insurance people are integrating physical and mental health care to nurture whole people.
  • Hennepin County community paramedics and Hennepin Health. How a few paramedics are giving some people in the hardest circumstances a chance to feel better — and helping change our state’s health care system at the same time.
  • Center for Victims of Torture and UCare. Helping doctors heal wounded bodies by giving hope to wounded hearts.




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Join our team

We are looking for a skilled professional to provide support and expertise to the Council and our member plans, with a focus medical policy, government programs and community health. Our new colleague will have a demonstrated ability to work with others, strong problem-solving skills and be super comfortable working in changing environment.

We think prior experience working in health care is a good foundation for this work, and a knack for learning a must. Check out the full posting for more details and how to apply.

What does the Council do, you ask? We’ve been here for 30 years and are dedicated to improving health care for all Minnesotans through the work of our state’s health plans. We work closely with people in health plans, government, and other parts of the medical community to better understand opportunities to make sure people get the care they need. We’re also focused on work to make the care we need more affordable.

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For many, healthy food is miles away

A new poll from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota identified roadblocks to Minnesotans’ access to healthy food.


Fixing the “grocery gap.”

The poll showed:

  • Nearly half of Minnesotans surveyed said that not having a store nearby that sells healthy food impacts what they eat.
  • Most Minnesotans (73 percent) said difficulty finding healthy food on-the-go influences their decisions.
  • A majority of those polled (56 percent) don’t believe that all Minnesotans have access to healthy food, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic background, while 16 percent are unsure.

See more details here.

The survey also found that the decline in the number of grocery stores serving smaller communities, especially in Greater Minnesota, influences what people buy. Fifty-five percent residents outside the Twin Cities say their food choices are at least somewhat influenced by a lack of stores nearby that sell healthy food. About 46 percent of people in the Twin Cities report similar challenges.

More than one-third of those surveyed said they must travel at least 10 minutes in order to shop at a full-service grocery store. Longer travel times are also more prevalent in Greater Minnesota, where 40 percent report traveling at least 10 minutes to shop at a grocery store, and in rural areas, where trips of more than 30 minutes are reported.

Minnesotans believe their communities should be part of a healthy solution. Nearly all of those surveyed (96 percent) say it is at least somewhat important for communities to increase access to affordable and healthy food.

Some efforts are already underway. The Minnesota Food Charter  identified barriers to healthy food access and recommended policy and systems changes to help resolve them. Initiatives like those underway at Lakeshirts Inc. in Detroit Lakes, and the formation of a new food co-op in Milan, Minn., demonstrate the type of community-driven solutions the Food Charter encourages.

Based in Eagan, The Open Door provides healthy food through its food shelves and Mobile Pantry sites, as well as its Mobile Lunch Box program, which offers healthy lunches and activities for children and families when school is not in session. The organization’s Garden To Table® program promotes improved access to fresh produce by providing garden plots, vegetable and herb seeds, plants, tools and compost to food shelf clients at no cost.

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Health care help is a phone call away; CareLine employees credited for saving life

The calm, quick response of two employees “probably saved my life.” That was the message from a HealthPartners member who called the CareLine while having a heart attack July 4.telehealth

CareLine, a phone line that provides members 24/7 advice from a registered nurse, heard from the member that he was feeling pressure in his chest and he was sweating, both symptoms of a heart attack, but he wasn’t feeling any pain. He knew something was wrong, but he wasn’t sure what to do next.

People often connect having a heart attack to what is seen on television or in the movies; but not everyone clutches their chest from the pain. In fact, symptoms can be subtle and often confusing for people having a heart attack, according to HealthPartners cardiologist Thomas Kottke, M.D.

Many health plans offer free advice from nurse over the phone. The numbers are on the back of your health care card and names such as CallLink, HealthConnection, Nurse Advice Line and Nurse Line.

At HealthPartners alone, CareLine nurses receive about 500 calls every month. About 30 percent of the time, nurses recommend a clinic visit, but about 40 to 50 percent of the time, members are advised to go directly to the emergency room. In the member’s situation above, he was directed to call 911 and take four baby aspirin. The life-saving advice is something that the CareLine team is providing hundreds of times every month.

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Medica Healthy Savings participants receive farmers markets discounts

Members in Medica Healthy Savings program now receive up to $3 off a tray of produce at participating farmers markets this summer. The discount runs through October.Healthy-Savings-CPG-card-feature
With more than 2,000 pounds of produce purchased by members at farmers markets last year, the Medica Healthy Savings program is at 30 markets in 2015. Markets from Alexandria to Wabasha participate, along with many in the Twin Cities area.
“Going to a farmers market is a great family experience….We love the new customers and are pleased to help connect members with our local farmers,” said Audrey Lord, manager of the Annex Farmers Market in Downtown Minneapolis.
Each week, Medica members receive announcements on dates when participating Farmers Markets are offering the promotion. Members simply present their Healthy Savings card at the information booth to receive their $3 voucher that can be used toward any fresh produce purchase at the market. For more details and a full list of participating markets, members can log into their Healthy Savings account here.

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Avoid the emergency department this Independence Day

Fireworks are a fun way to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, but they are also dangerous explosives that if handled improperly can result in life-changing injuries.

Be safe: watch the experts.

Be safe: watch the experts.

Last year, our colleagues at Region Hospital’s Burn Center in St. Paul admitted five patients with injuries sustained from fireworks. In all, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division reported 71 firework-related injuries last year, with more than 40 percent of those happening to children under age 20. Fireworks injury statistics show:

  • Approximately 82 percent of firework-related injuries occur to the hands, eyes, head and face.
  • Children between the ages 10 and 19 have the highest firework injury rate.
  • The injury rate is nearly three times higher for males compared to the females.

Be safe and handle fireworks with caution, keeping in mind these tips from HealthPartners:

  • Adults only. Nearly half of firework injuries happen to children under age 19. Even sparklers are dangerous! Ranging between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, sparklers are hot enough to melt gold and can cause severe burns and permanent scarring.
  • Obey your local city and state laws. If fireworks are illegal where you live, don’t buy or use them. Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in six firework-related deaths reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2012.
  • Leave it to the professionals. The safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is to leave it to professionals who are trained on handling them. Scope out where the best local fireworks shows are, sit back and enjoy the show. These lists from Explore Minnesota and MPR offer some suggestions for fireworks viewing.

While the noise from neighbors celebrating may be annoying, be sure to use 911 only in emergency situations. Leave the 911 lines open for true emergencies. In Minneapolis alone, the police department receives 300 to 400 calls every hour on a typical the 4th of July for fireworks noise complaints. The city recently reminded residents to use 911 only in case of urgent concerns involving fire or a direct threat to an individual’s safety.

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