The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation focuses on factors that determine health beyond genes, lifestyle and access to health care. This focus reflects our purpose: to look beyond health care today for ideas that create healthier communities tomorrow.
Four key factors
Health is not just the result of genes, lifestyle and access to health care. It is also determined by the day-to-day conditions in which we live and work. According to the World Health Organization, "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
The foundation conducted research, convened local and national leaders, and talked with Minnesota communities to identify where to target our resources under this focus:
Health and early childhood development
Healthy early childhood development (infancy through age five) is critical for school readiness and social skills, and sets the stage for a healthy, productive adulthood.
Health and housing
Living in safe, affordable housing and safer neighborhoods are linked to better health, especially for children.
Health and social connectedness
Research has found that healthier communities have stronger social networks and support systems that bond people together. Social connectedness is especially important to the mental health and healthy adjustment of new Americans.
Health and the environment
Environmental quality has an effect on our health. Children are especially vulnerable, due to their smaller size and rapid development, and children living in low-income neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards.
Healthier Minnesota communities
A focus on social, economic and environmental determinants of health will improve health and lessen the burden on the health care system over time. But it does not lessen the importance of access to quality, affordable health care and prevention.
While Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the nation, many Minnesotans do not share that health — particularly people of color, new Americans and people living in poverty. Many health problems, such as asthma, diabetes and some cancers, are strongly associated with poverty, recent immigration to the U.S. and membership in a racial minority group.
Our state will be healthier if more Minnesotans have a healthy childhood, live in safe and affordable homes and communities, and feel socially connected.
A history of corporate social responsibility
Blue Cross and its family of companies focus on key elements of health across the spectrum. Prevention Minnesota is Blue Cross' initiative to tackle the root causes of heart disease and cancer throughout Minnesota. And part of Blue Cross' nonprofit mission is to advocate for public policies that ensure access to affordable, high-quality health care for members. As the philanthropic arm of Blue Cross, the Foundation has a unique opportunity to focus "upstream" on social determinants of health to improve the health of entire communities.