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Giving to Others May Impact Your Health!

Make A Difference in Your CommunityA blog I wrote last February, ‘100+ Men – A Creative Community Effort,’ discussed a Des Moines-based program, 100+ Men on a Mission, which was founded to help make charitable contributions to cash-starved community organizations. The sense of fulfillment for all who participate is quite profound.

A recently published study substantiates how donating to charity and helping others may actually improve the physical and emotional well-being of the giver. The Journal of Economic Psychology’s report also suggests that increases in charitable tax subsidies may actually spur the behavior of giving and ultimately improve one’s perceptions of his/her own health.

To embrace this concept of giving throughout the state, perhaps representatives from the Healthiest State Initiative and the Blue Zones Project might consider recruiting 100+ Men and 100+ Women to help develop opportunities for other Iowa communities. It’s certainly something to think about…

Imagine giving back to others and feeling good (and healthy!) about making a difference. This is a win-win proposition for all Iowans!

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100+ Men – A Creative Community Effort

Local Charities - 100+ MenThe power of numbers can be inspiring! Making a difference in your community can be so simple yet fulfilling – just look at 100+ Men on a Mission!

Two years ago I was invited to attend a ‘kick-off’ meeting for 100+ Men on a Mission, a Des Moines-based organization started primarily by Mike Schneider, a long-time friend. From this initial event, I was hooked on the great impact that a seemingly disparate number of individuals can do in just one community. About $40k is raised annually for local charities.

THIS IS HOW 100+ MEN ON A MISSION WORKS*:

  • Each member must commit to donating $100 per meeting ($400 per year). 
  • The donations will be given to Des Moines Metro charities/non-profits/worthy causes serving the Des Moines area only. No national charities will be considered.
  • The purpose is for the contribution to stay 100% in the community.
  • Each charity/non-profit/worthy cause that is under consideration will be given five minutes to make a presentation at the meeting by a member of the 100+ MEN ON A MISSION, not by the charity/non-profit/worthy cause.
  • Three charities/non-profits/worthy causes will be presented at the meeting. The group will vote by ballot and majority rules. Although it may not be your first choice, you are still obligated to donate.
  • If your name is drawn and you make a presentation and your charity is not chosen, you will still be eligible to put your name in the drawing at the next meeting.
  • For tax purposes, all checks will be made out to the chosen organization. If you are unable to attend, give your check to a member to deliver on your behalf.\
  • The charity/non-profit/worthy cause must agree to NOT use the donors’ names for future solicitations or give the information out to the public. If the charity/non-profit/worthy cause does not adhere to this condition, they will be removed from any future consideration.

*Taken from the 100+ Men on a Mission website

By helping a segment of our community that, in many cases, we never knew existed, we receive a personal sense of fulfillment. The process of 100+ Men is both simple and very rewarding for all who are touched by this ‘organic’ philanthropic collection of individuals.

In previous blogs, I have discussed the Healthiest State Initiative and the Blue Zones Project. Perhaps through these initiatives, Iowa should consider embracing the 100+ Men concept. What a great way to make a difference statewide! And, it does not have to stop with men. Des Moines also has a 100+ Women organization. In addition, employees from various companies are stepping up and embracing random acts of kindness within their own organizations.

Philanthropic creativity can be quite powerful within our communities. Don’t miss your opportunity to make a difference!

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New Era in Iowa Healthcare (Needed)

Value in Health Care DeliveryI’ve recently been visiting with healthcare providers around Iowa discussing how employers view health insurance and the value of healthcare delivered to their employees and family members. The discussion has been both open and honest. In fact, Iowa hospitals and physicians appear to be both interested and concerned with what they are learning.

My presentations evolve around four key observations that I have made over the past 29 years, both as a benefits consultant (my past life) and as a researcher. The intent of sharing these observations with the provider community is to convey the ‘pain points’ experienced by Iowa organizations regarding exorbitant health care costs and to begin a new dialogue of collaborating resources to find meaningful solutions in our health care world. After all, we are all in this mammoth problem together, right?

Here are my four observations:

  • Observation #1 – Health insurance premiums for Iowa employers have increased by 164 percent from 1999 to 2012. A great deal of uncertainty exists about the future of the health care ‘system.’

Year-after-year, employers continue to pay a handsome portion of the insurance premium. We know that take-home pay continues to erode for employees, as cost-sharing continues upward through increased payroll deductions and benefit plan alterations that include both higher deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. This is clearly unsustainable for ALL of us. For communities to remain healthy and vibrant, employers must find solutions to this escalating problem.

  • Observation #2 – Iowa employers continue to embrace wellness initiatives, as they desire to have a healthier and more productive workforce.

Gradually we are morphing into a new social conscience of embracing healthier lifestyles – as more Iowa employers continue to assess and implement wellness efforts. We also have the Healthiest State Initiative and Blue Zones Projects™ in the news. The statewide Capital Crossroads Community Wellness Study reported that Iowa employers are open to partnering with community-wide wellness programs. For those employers currently without wellness programs in place, only three percent feel that wellness programs don’t work! This is encouraging.

  • Observation #3 – Lack of transparency in health care is a major concern and frustration to Iowa employers and their employees. Health insurance has become a major distraction to employers.

There is a growing belief that the ‘market’ approach does not work for ‘buyers’ of health care. In the next few years, will we see a gradual shift by employers to a more defined contribution approach by limiting financial support for employee premiums? Will value-based benefits begin to take hold that will nudge employees to use ‘higher value’ health providers and utilize approved medical procedures requiring less out-of-pocket exposure? Transparency of costs and outcomes are essential for the private market(s) to exist as health providers WILL definitely be held more accountable in the future.

The Accountable Care Act (ACA) will not solve the cost issue for employers and their employees. In fact, the ACA adds greater complexity in the insurance markets, forcing employers to search for opportunities that will relieve tensions and uncertainties. A ‘Provider Renaissance’ is sorely needed to deliver great value for the insurance premium being paid.

So what does all of this mean to the healthcare provider community?

Employers want to TRUST that hospitals and physicians will:

  1. UNDERSTAND the employer perspective, which is the need to be competitive by having a healthy workforce. Health providers must have the employers’ best interest in mind.
  2. CONSISTENTLY provide quality outcomes at reasonable costs – i.e. receive greater value for the dollar paid.
  3. COMMIT to do these critical things on an on-going basis – long term.

As mentioned in a prior blog, our fragmented delivery system is really not a “system,” but rather a concoction of multiple temporary or expedient remedies that attempt to solve our problems as we confront our health care needs. No one is at fault, yet we ALL are.

Now is the time for employers and the healthcare provider community to work together – starting with a meaningful and trusting dialogue that will result in concrete solutions.

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