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Sustainable health. Sustainable health care.

Health is personal and precious and when it fails us, care can be costly. Protecting our members’ financial and physical well-being is our most important job.

We have always encouraged healthy lifestyle choices and empower our members to take control of their health. Keeping our members and their communities healthy is the best answer to keeping health care affordable.

That’s why we quickly raised our hands and got involved in 2011 when Iowa Governor Terry Branstad announced the Healthiest State Initiative. The goal of the Healthiest State Initiative is to rally Iowans from all walks of life to come together and make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.

A lot has happened in the five years since the Healthiest State Initiative launched. We’ve worked with communities both large and small to make positive changes to their built environments — all of the physical parts of where we live, work and play to make the healthy choice the easy choice for residents.

We’ve also empowered local businesses, nonprofits, schools and local governments to make their workplaces healthier for their employees. In the schools, this also positively impacts students. From these experiences, we’ve learned:

  • Communities that commit to transformation can accomplish big things.
  • Every community is different. Each has its own priority.
  • A healthy and vibrant population leads to a healthy and vibrant community and economy!

Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark is designed to make the healthy choice the easy choice and improve overall well-being.

Every community has different priorities, as well as people and budgets to put plans into action. Healthy Hometown can be customized easily for a community’s level of interest and commitment.

The Healthy Hometown model has three tracks that communities can follow to make improvements: eat well, move more and feel better. Improvements can be made in the following places: community, health care provider, organization/institution, retail food, school and worksite.

    Iowa Communities have two ways to participate: 

    1. Do a self-assessment. The self-assessment tool is available onlineExternal Site for schools, worksites and communities. Participants answer questions about their organization and policies in place. At the end of the assessment, participants will receive a report listing ways to enhance the well-being of their students, employees and citizens.

    2. Ask for help from experts. A community can submit a Healthy Hometown Statement of Interest for expert assistance in prioritizing and implementing a plan to make healthy choices available and easy for residents to adopt.

    In South Dakota, the goal is to have the self-assessment tool available in late winter with the ability for communities to ask for help from experts in the summer.