Jack Segal of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois at Go for the Gold Launch: “It’s Never Too Earl

September 14, 2010

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Jack Segal addresses the crowd at the Go for the Gold launch.

At the August 17 launch of the Go for the Gold Campaign, several key leaders helped us kick off this new initiative. We're proud to work with such tremendous supporters, including Jack Segal, vice president of public affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Go for the Gold will move forward with the support of a civic anc business advisory committee established by HSC and CPS with the leadership of co-chairs Karen Atwood, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, and Terry Mazany, president and CEO of Chicago Community Trust.

An excerpt of remarks from Jack Segal:


Being involved with “Go for the Gold” is part of a natural progression for Blue Cross. Three years ago, we launched our own child health and wellness initiative to address the issue of childhood obesity in the state. We fund local initiatives, collaborations and nonprofits that promote healthy eating, wellness and physical activity for kids and their families, and we’re working to connect like-minded organizations so they can coordinate efforts and make a larger impact in the neighborhoods where they are.

We also advance dialog and action by leading and participating in organizations that are driving change. That’s why teaming up with the Healthy Schools Campaign is so important to us. At Blue Cross, we know first-hand the toll that obesity can take on your health in the long run. Five of the top 10 diagnoses among our nearly seven million members across the nation and here in Illinois are related to obesity. Yes, five out of ten – including diabetes, various heart conditions, and others. What’s so tragic about this is that many of these conditions can be prevented. In line with the increasing diagnoses of disease, health care costs are climbing dramatically as utilization of medical services increases — in some cases starting at a very early age.

In recent years, the proportion of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois members with chronic and serious conditions has increased greatly. From 2004 to 2008 alone the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes among members increased by about 14 percent and charges for services increased by 34 percent, from about $22,000 to $29,000.

That’s just one example of why it’s never too early to start helping children be and stay healthy, and working with organizations like the Healthy Schools Campaign, we hope to instill healthy behaviors that last a lifetime.

As we’ve looked at the most effective ways to promote healthy behaviors in children, we’ve also had to look at how and why kids develop certain lifestyle habits. Just as their parents spend the majority of their week days at work, kids spend the better part of their days at school, so addressing health in the schools is key to reducing the obesity rate. I’m proud to see Healthy Schools Campaign and Chicago Public Schools make a commitment to addressing kids’ health and I look forward to working with you — to sharing your goals and vision with others at Blue Cross and with our corporate partners. Chicago Public Schools President Richardson-Lowry and CEO Ron Huberman — I applaud you both for taking steps to improve the health and future of the district’s more than 400,000 students. We are happy to support your efforts.

It will certainly take cooperation and determination to meet this challenge, and help reverse the trend of childhood obesity, but from what we’ve heard so far today the need is now and the people who can make change happen are here to get the job done. It’s an honor to be a part of this, and I know that by working together we can answer the First Lady’s call to solve the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight. In the process, we’ll be setting an example for cities and schools across the country. Many of our employees are parents of Chicago Public School students, and as the largest health insurer in the state, the health of our families and communities is a top priority.

As the health insurer for the Chicago Public Schools, our hope is to engage teachers and other CPS employees in an ongoing dialogue about wellness and prevention, and to do what we can to support and promote health and wellness in young people. I look forward to being back with all of you as we note major milestones along the way, and celebrating when we have successfully met the challenge of improving the health and wellness environments for all Chicago Public School students.

Thank you to Jack Segal for taking part in this exciting launch!

To check out more photos from the launch event, click here.