Community Health Improvement
Everyone in Iowa and South Dakota deserves exceptional, affordable health care coverage. In 2008, we recognized that health care costs were rising at an alarming rate — faster than virtually any other segment of the economy. The costs risked making the system unsustainable for future generations. We’ve been working to minimize health care costs increases and bring the increases to no more than the Consumer Price Index.
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:
- Local ownership means everything — Communities need to be proud of the work they are doing.
- Flexibility matters — 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 health 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.
Three ways to get started:
- Do a self-assessment. The self-assessment tool is available online 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.
- Pick a priority and ask for help. A community can identify a specific priority that fits into one or more tracks and places. Wellmark will consult with the community and identify subject matter experts to assist the community with developing and implementing their plan.
- Transform your community. This option requires a multi-year commitment to engage in work across all tracks and places. Communities that are selected will be assigned a Wellmark Community Manager to assist and facilitate the community plan and implementation.
In Iowa, the self-assessment tool is available to schools, worksites and communities at Iowa Healthiest State WebsiteExternal Site. Communities can request assistance with picking a priority or transforming their community in early January 2017.
In South Dakota, the goal is to have the self-assessment tool available in January, with the ability for commuities to request assistance with picking a priority or transforming their community in the spring of 2017.