Making health care better takes a collaborative approach

October 9, 2023 | Private-public partnerships making a difference in Iowa Laura Jackson, Executive Vice President, Health Equity, Access And Improvement, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield,

Inequitable health outcomes arise from more than just unequal access to care. 

When an individual’s basic needs are not met, a long, healthy life becomes increasingly difficult to attain. Unequal access to economic opportunity, stable family life, meaningful work, livable housing, quality education, reliable transportation, healthy foods, clean water and thriving communities are many of the “upstream” contributing factors that can significantly and negatively impact a person’s life. Studies prove, a strong economy and healthy people are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. The U.S. now spends more than $4.3T annually on health care, and is often focused on treatment after health has deteriorated. Wellmark believes that when we partner with others, we can have a positive impact on the increasing cost of health care. More importantly, we want to ensure all residents in Iowa can live a long and healthy life. No one entity can make this happen. 

Here are just a few areas (there are many more) that need all of us to work upstream, together, to positively change the lives of Iowans.

Struggling Youth

The mental and behavioral health of our marginalized, socioeconomically challenged and racially diverse youth are experiencing greater incidence of crisis. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 in Iowa. 

Maternal & Child Health

In Iowa, unhealthy lifestyles and health risks prior to pregnancy are making it more difficult to ensure healthy outcomes for mom and baby. It is also challenging for our hospitals to maintain birthing centers and attract the appropriate health care workforce. 

Rural Health

Urbanization has led to many challenges for rural Iowans. This has changed and reduced the quality of life and access to resources for many Iowans who we count on to ensure our rural communities, and the industries that depend upon them, thrive. 

The entirety of this work has never been more important and by working together with deep engagement from the public and private sector, through coalitions where we leverage our respective strengths and expertise, we can create healthier people, healthier economies, and ensure that all Iowans have the opportunity to thrive.