Minnesota’s journey toward universal coverage

Notes from the Council’s early years show how people who believe in human wellbeing can come together to make progress. Through decades of change, reform and reaction, managed care is still a force for good in Minnesota — not just because it’s a practical idea. It’s the human caring and expertise of Minnesota’s nonprofit health insurers that matters most.

Find out about the early history of managed care, MinnesotaCare and more from the people who helped make it happen.


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Be aware of mental health care needs 24/7

As Mental Health Month comes to an end the work to improve our mental health and overall well being continues.

Unfortunately, stigma, shame, misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding mental health still exist. It stops people for getting help. It affects how we see people who have mental illness. And it limits how we talk about mental illness and wellness, further isolating people with the disease.

Here are some programs and ideas to help you better understand mental illness. Take a look and share with your friends.

Hilarious World of Depression. This podcast is about depression. And laughs. From its website: Depression is an incredibly common and isolating disease experienced by millions, yet often stigmatized by society. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe. If you have not met the disease personally, it’s almost certain that someone you know has, whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague, or neighbor. Depression is a vicious cycle of solitude and stigma that leaves people miserable and sometimes dead. Frankly, we’re not going to put up with that anymore.


Make It OK. This campaign increases public awareness of helpful mental health care by helping people to talk more openly about mental health.

The 45-minute Make It OK presentation provides helpful, simple tips for talking friends and family members. In addition to taking the pledge, you can learn more about reducing stigma.


Mental Health First Aid© (MHFA.) This in-person training for youth and adults teaches how to assist people who are in crisis or are at risk of developing a mental illness. This eight-hour course teaches how to identify signs of addiction and mental illness, and how to evaluate the situation and provide help.

MHFA also gives people who take the course connections to local professionals who can help


Psychological First Aid (PFA.) Take the course used by first-responders and others to help children and adults experiencing immediate mental trauma. This trauma can come from violence, public health emergency, disaster or other event.

PFA is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health Office of Emergency Preparedness. You can take the course as a six-hour interactive online course or use the online manual.


Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR.)  These three simple steps  can help prevent suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis. QHR also teaches you how to question, persuade and refer someone to help.

Learn QPR in an hour at QPR’s website.


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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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