The healthcare community has an important role to play bridging the connection between food and health. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an organizational sponsor of the Food and Health Network, is working to invest in wellness to prevent the high costs of diet-related chronic diseases.
It has been said that people neglect their healthwhile trying to achieve wealth, but in the end must spend their wealth to regain their health. Keeping the cost of health care affordable is an issue that affects us all.
While nothing is more valuable than the gift of good health, reclaiming it once lost can indeed be expensive. Excellus BCBS believes that shifting the focus to prevention whenever possible can yield tremendous benefits in both quality of life and financial savings. Often, simple lifestyle adjustments are all that may be necessary to improve health and prevent chronic illness.
We know for example, that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and increases the risk of many health problems, including cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In Upstate New York, 22% or about 900,000 adults smoke. Smokers cost the Upstate region more than $15.6 billion (2014 dollars) each year in direct medical costs and economic productivity losses.
Called one of today’s greatest health epidemics, and ranking second as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, is obesity. A staggering 62% of Upstate New York adults – more than 2 million people – were overweight or obese in 2011, placing them at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and gallbladder disease. The consequences of obesity not only affect an individual’s health and quality of life, but also health care costs.
We believe all Americans should be encouraged to embrace prevention as the best medicine. To help our members we partnered with various not-for-profit agencies in the area to help provide prevention resources to the community. For several years we have helped fund the Rural Health Network of SCNY’s Renew Health Program that provides chronic disease management classes and services to rural adults. This year, Excellus BCBS is helping to sponsor the Family Enrichment Network’s “Eat, Play, Grow” program that focuses on healthy lifestyles for children and their families.
We also reinforce the prevention philosophy with a variety of free interactive healthy living resources at www.excellusbcbs.com. Beginning with a confidential Health Risk Assessment and Personal Wellness Report you can identify what you’re doing right and where healthy improvements can be made. Targeted programs like our award-winning “Quit for Life” provide one-on-one coaching support to smokers committed to quitting. We even offer a Healthy Rewards Program for members who eat better, exercise more, and get routine check-ups.
Increasingly, governments, employers, health care providers, a
nd community organizations are partnering to give everyone the opportunity to make healthy life choices a priority. Working together we believe we can make Upstate New York’s health care system a model of wellness – medically and fiscally. Ultimately, the responsibility for health care costs lies with each of us. We are committed to doing our part. We encourage you to do what you can. Make healthy choices today to reap the reward we all seek – a long, healthy, prosperous life.