How do we help address the opioid epidemic in our state? Empower the people on the front lines.
By Blue Cross NC President, CEO and practicing pediatrician, Dr. Patrick Conway
Often, when we think about what shapes a person’s health, we think about routine doctor visits, medications and exercise—things largely within the control of our doctor and ourselves.
But where we live, how safe or stressful our environments are, our access to quality education, healthy foods, transportation and community resources all affect our health.
These factors, called social determinants of health, affect us before we are born and last throughout our lives. What’s more, they’re shown to impact 80 percent or more of our health. When these social needs are not met, they lead to more illness, emergency room visits and hospital admissions. 1
To bring costs down, we need to invest today.
I understand the critical importance of addressing these issues. Sadly, I have treated thousands of children with adverse childhood experiences such as extreme poverty, lack of nutritious food or abuse.
I can educate my patients about the value of healthy eating and exercise, but if they don’t have transportation to a grocery store or a safe neighborhood to walk in, they can’t do what they need to improve their health.
That’s why we are investing an additional $50 million into North Carolina community health initiatives this year. This investment will focus on four specific areas: addressing the state’s opioid epidemic, early childhood development, social determinants of health and primary care.
After all, we know if we make smart investments in our local communities, we will improve people’s health, save money and lower costs