Supporting Communities Through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund
For more than 80 years, Blue Cross has had one consistent purpose—to help the people of Michigan live healthier lives. Providing high-quality health care is just one of many ways we’re achieving that goal.
In 2013, we took steps to become a nonprofit mutual insurer. As part of this transition, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund came into being. The Health Fund is an independent, nonprofit philanthropic foundation that works to improve the health and wellness of vulnerable Michigan residents. BCBSM finances it through payments of millions of dollars annually, with the purpose of improving the health of Michigan residents and providing critical aid to those who need it most.
As the sole patron, Blue Cross committed to paying $1.56 billion over the course of 18 years to the Health Fund. To date, we have paid a total of $525 million. With every payment, we help subsidize organizations with the intent of making a positive, measurable impact everywhere in Michigan.
The Health Fund supports many locally-driven programs. Each of which must fit into at least one of the following categories:
- Behavioral health
- Healthy aging
- Access to healthy food
- Wellness and fitness
- Infant mortality
- Technology enhancements
- Health-related transportation
- Foodborne illness prevention
The Health Fund has made significant strides in selecting projects that align with its guiding principles. In 2018, over $5 million was allocated to programs focusing on mental health and substance abuse disorders.
One of the recipients, TRAILS (Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students), aims to bring professional mental health services to Michigan schools by providing staff with clinical training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness techniques. There’s also The GRACE Project, which received over $350,000 to combat substance abuse among seniors using virtual tools and medication-assisted treatment.
In 2018, the Health Fund also gave $14 million to 30 organizations as part of two programs—Healthy Aging and Special Projects. Among this group, Connect Michigan received nearly $330,000 to bring telemedicine to seniors living in five rural counties. While the Michigan Department of Education was awarded close to $500,000 to create safer, more inclusive learning spaces for LGBTQ students.
In addition, the Health Fund is responsible for administering Michigan’s Medigap subsidy through 2021. Currently in its fourth year, the five-year initiative is dispensing $120 million to aid low-income policyholders. This will help to provide affordable coverage for eligible individuals across the state.
In 2020, BCBSM will continue to support the Health Fund in promoting the mental and physical wellness of Michigan residents. Through collaboration and responsible stewardship, we will continue our 81 years of work toward a brighter, healthier future.
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Photo credit: Eva Katalin Kondoros