Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) is investing $10 million to raise awareness for the prevention and early detection of two diseases greatly affecting the health of Texans — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic diabetic kidney disease (CKD) — through its Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grants from the Health Care Service Corporation, of which BCBSTX is a division.
Up to $2 million per year is slated for existing and new partners that already are delivering results in the prevention of CKD and COPD, or that can build health programs to slow the progression of these diseases. The initiative is part of BCBSTX’s community investment strategy to improve serious public health problems in Texas.
BCBSTX began accepting proposals for review for the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grants on June 5. More information on how to apply for a grant can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by following this link to begin the application process.
An estimated 5.5% of Texans have COPD, and many of them are undiagnosed and only seek help when the disease is at an advanced stage. Most (85-90 percent) of COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoking. Other factors such as air pollution, secondhand smoke and dust, fumes and chemicals also contribute to the development of the disease.
It is estimated that 11 percent of Texans suffer from diabetes, with many advancing to chronic complications, such as CKD.
CKD and COPD are two chronic conditions affecting very different populations of Texans in opposite ends of the state. BCBSTX claims data showing diabetes largely affecting Latinos and African-Americans in southern Texas, while it is Caucasians in the northern region who are touched the most by COPD.
COPD affects more women, with the highest mortality among Caucasian women. The patients usually earn less than $25,000 per year and are more likely to have health insurance, but report that costs are an obstacle to accessing care. Patients often have a history of asthma and smoking, according to BCBSTX data, and 11 percent of COPD patients in Texas are still active smokers.
About 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, which is the third most common cause of death in the country. Early detection increases the chances of preventing further damage to the lungs.
“We realize daily that as a statewide health insurance company, we are uniquely positioned to address issues affecting the health and wellness of Texans,” Dan McCoy, MD, president of BCBSTX, said in a press release. “This new initiative builds on an already successful BCBSTX community investment history that has touched a myriad of public health issues and hundreds of community organizations statewide.”
“Understanding that, we made the strategic decision to focus our community investment resources on a long-term effort to impact CKD and COPD because our claims data revealed these two chronic illnesses were not only driving up the cost of care, but also profoundly affecting the health and quality of life of thousands of Texans,” McCoy said.
The Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grants started in 2011 as a three-year initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of at least one million children through community investments. The program fosters nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, and supporting safe environments. It has helped three million children to date.
BCBSTX is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, responsible for Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Texas, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. It is the largest customer-owned health insurer in the U.S., and the fourth-largest health insurer overall.