WellPoint, one of America’s largest health benefits companies in terms of medical membership, announced today that its affiliated health plans, corporate foundation and associates contributed more than $19.8 million and 15,336 volunteer hours to health-related causes and community events in 2011.
“WellPoint is passionate about our mission, to improve the lives of the people we serve and the health of our communities,” said Angela Braly, chair, president and chief executive officer of WellPoint. “We bring that mission to life in all we do, and are proud to support programs that make meaningful and measurable improvements in the health of our communities.”
Through its State Health Index — a state-by-state compilation of public health measures — and Healthy Generations grant program, WellPoint and its foundation work to identify the health issues most in need of attention and direct charitable support and volunteer efforts toward improving those areas.
“Our 37,000 associates live and work in the communities we serve,” said Braly. “Being part of the community helps us better identify and address unique and local health care challenges, and as corporate citizens, friends and neighbors, we are privileged to see the impact of our work and giving first-hand.”
Over the past few years, the company and foundation have become increasingly focused on addressing the serious health problems caused by sedentary lifestyles and skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity.
Obesity rates have almost tripled in children since the 1980s and have reached an all-time high among adults, where about one-in-three is now considered obese, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In response, this year the WellPoint Foundation initiated several significant grant relationships to improve youth health, including:
— A three-year, $5 million grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to address the growing threat of childhood obesity by supporting and expanding the nonprofit’s Triple Play program; and
— A two-year, $2.7 million grant to the OASIS Institute to expand CATCH Healthy Habits to 18 locations in 14 states and an estimated 5,000 children and adults. This unique, intergenerational program pairs mature adult volunteers (age 50-plus) with children to encourage healthier eating and physical activity. It has been shown to benefit the health of both the kids as well as the adult volunteers.
“These grant programs are critical to alerting our communities about the public health crisis posed by obesity,” said Lance Chrisman, executive director of the WellPoint Foundation. “Through our grantees we are working to provide families with the tools and education they need improve their health and get their kids off to a healthy start in life.”
Two other major initiatives announced by the WellPoint Foundation in 2011 were a $1 million grant to the March of Dimes to support group-based prenatal care for at-risk mothers, a preterm birth toolkit and a public awareness campaign; and a two-year, $1.5 million grant to the American Cancer Society to support the Patient Navigator Program, which helps patients, families and caregivers navigate the many systems encountered during the cancer journey.
The WellPoint Foundation also contributed to disaster relief efforts in Japan through AmeriCares, and tornado relief in Georgia, Missouri and Virginia through the American Red Cross.
WellPoint’s philanthropy and community endeavors are carried out at the local level through its affiliated health plans and locally based business units. In the 14 states where WellPoint affiliates operate a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association licensee health plan, the company contributed more than $3.6 million to events, community organizations and nonprofit charities.
In its headquarters city of Indianapolis, WellPoint partnered with the 2012 Super Bowl Host committee to support “Indy’s Super Cure,” a campaign aimed at raising awareness and support for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure(R) Tissue Bank at Indiana University’s Simon Cancer Center. Braly served as honorary chair of the campaign which raised more than $1.5 million — including $130,000 of support from WellPoint– in less than six months. The investments made and the heightened local and national attention generated by Indy’s Super Cure will help advance cancer research and clinical discovery in cancer care long after Super Bowl XLVI.
Similarly, and in a variety of ways, WellPoint associates contributed their own energy and money to improving their communities in 2011.
More than 3,800 WellPoint associates, friends and family members donated their time to community organizations across the United States during the company’s Community Service Day on April 30, 2011. Taking place at more than 160 sites throughout 24 states and the District of Columbia, the annual effort benefitted nonprofits dedicated to improving the quality of life in local communities, including area food banks; parks programs; and the local chapters of national organizations such as Ronald McDonald House Charities, Special Olympics, YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Through the annual WellPoint Associate Giving Campaign in November, the company’s associates also pledged more than $4.5 million to six beneficiaries — American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Community Health Charities, Feeding America, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and United Way. Campaign pledges are backed by a 50 percent match from the WellPoint Foundation, bringing the total pledged to the health organizations to more than $6.8 million.
“WellPoint, our associates and the WellPoint Foundation are truly committed to improving health in a targeted and strategic way,” said Chrisman. “We are honored to work with outstanding organizations at both the national and local levels, and look forward to continuing to work with them to create healthier communities for all.”
About WellPoint, Inc.
WellPoint works to simplify the connection between Health, Care and Value. We help to improve the health of our members and our communities, and provide greater value to our customers and shareholders. WellPoint is one of the nation’s largest health benefits companies, with 34 million members in its affiliated health plans, and a total of more than 66 million individuals served through its subsidiaries. As an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, WellPoint serves members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In a majority of these service areas, WellPoint’s plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). WellPoint also serves customers throughout the country as UniCare. Additional information about WellPoint is available at http://www.wellpoint.com .
About WellPoint Foundation
The WellPoint Foundation is the philanthropic arm of WellPoint, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of WellPoint, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that WellPoint, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These disease states and medical conditions include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s annual associate giving campaign and provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges. To learn more about the WellPoint Foundation, please visit http://www.wellpointfoundation.org .