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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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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HealthPartners offers online program for mild depression, anxiety

HealthPartners is offering its members and patients a new web–based program to treat mild and moderate stress, sadness, tension, depression or anxiety. Beating the Blues is an eight week program based on cognitive-behavioral therapy.beating the blues us logo

Developed at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, there are 12 years of research that show it can significantly improve depression and anxiety.

“As many as eight in ten people with symptoms of clinical depression are not receiving any treatment and this tool can increase access to treatment that we know works. It can also prevent symptoms from getting worse for people who have minor stress or anxiety,” said Karen Lloyd, Ph.D., senior director of behavioral health and resilience, at HealthPartners.

Beating the Blues combines multi–media interactive technology with cognitive–behavioral therapy. Participants spend about 50 minutes in eight session learning to identify thought patterns, and how they lead to feelings and behaviors that can cause stress, tension or negative feelings. The program then teaches users how to replace those thought patterns with more positive ones. Evidence shows the new thought patterns can result in more positive feelings and behaviors.

Online cognitive behavioral therapy programs are widely offered by health systems in other countries including the Netherlands, Sweden, Britain and Australia. The program was first used by a large health system in the U.S. in 2011. In 2013, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) added it to the National Registry of Evidence–based Programs and Practices. It is available at no–cost to HealthPartners 1.4 million health plan members and to patients at its 55 HealthPartners and Park Nicollet clinics.


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