The COVID-19 pandemic put our health front and center. We’re experiencing firsthand how vital it is to be healthy, not only for ourselves, but to protect the health of those around us. Improving health means more than just treating what ails us. We must address whole health and what drives it, that’s why at Anthem we’re moving beyond the traditional scope of addressing physical health to also influence behavioral and social drivers of health positively.
Many people made their health a priority in 2021, using our digital tools and expanded resources to improve and maintain their mental and physical well-being. As we enter the new year, still in the throes of the pandemic, we’re innovating, expanding initiatives with our partners, and broadening our view of health to have the greatest impact in our communities.
COVID-19 and the Flu
As COVID-19 vaccines became available last year, we helped remove barriers to getting a shot, ensuring all eligible people who want a COVID-19 vaccine can get it. We partnered with Lyft to provide 60 million rides to and from vaccination sites. In a Milwaukee neighborhood, getting a shot was as simple as a visit to Gee’s Barbershop, where we partnered to support a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. COVID-19 is not the only concern: it’s flu season, so The Anthem Foundation and The American Lung Association launched the Fend Off Flu campaign, providing targeted toolkits and tips to prevent the flu.
Mental Health has worsened during the pandemic. Effective behavioral healthcare addresses both the medical and non-medical factors that shape health. That’s why a whole health approach will improve access, affordability, and outcomes in behavioral health. Last year, we released our inaugural State of the Nation’s Mental Health report. Worryingly, we saw increased mental distress due to the pandemic, yet there was a flat rate of diagnoses in 2020. People who are struggling but are not getting the diagnosis – and thus the help – they need could have implications for the nation’s long-term mental health. We are leveraging our expertise, technology, and innovative approaches to predict, prevent, identify, and treat behavioral health conditions.
Accessible healthcare is a critical factor in improving health. Digital health options provide consumers with the means to receive care anywhere. The Anthem Digital Incubator (ADI) will drive digital innovation for consumers and providers by offering invited companies funding, unique growth and educational opportunities, and customized coaching for their innovative solutions. ADI is the first incubator of its kind in the health insurance industry and aims squarely to improve health and lower costs, with an emphasis on driving positive, whole health outcomes.
Food insecurity is the most commonly reported unmet social need in the United States. An estimated 2 out of 5 food bank visitors last year were people experiencing food insecurity for the first time. Our Close to Home tool maps publicly available food insecurity data in every ZIP code in America, helps put the scale of this crisis into context, and tracks the drivers of disparity. The Equitable Food Access Initiative launched last summer as a community-driven effort to address food insecurity by partnering the Anthem Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Indianapolis. The three-year, $2.45 million initiative, funded by the Anthem Foundation, aims to improve nutritious food access, and help build a more equitable food system in the northeast corridor of Indianapolis.
The Road Ahead: A Whole Health Approach
Navigating our health in 2022 will require taking a whole health approach and addressing the drivers that impact it. Health equity is a key driver of mental and physical well-being, and a vital area of focus for Anthem. The new year will bring more emphasis on how we remove barriers people face disproportionately when trying to access quality healthcare. Addressing social drivers will also play a critical role in improving health. Our recently released landmark report Driving Our Health: A study exploring health perceptions in America, revealed the deep impact of these contributing factors. Anthem’s focus on whole health, along with our partnerships, community initiatives, groundbreaking research, and innovation, will help chart the course to better health.