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Health reform helps Minnesotans prevent disease and disability, rather than treating problems after they arise. This makes financial sense, medical sense, and is good common sense. 

Preventing Disease and Promoting Health

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an age-old prescription for better health. This approach is as valid as ever and health reform helps Minnesotans prevent disease and disability, rather than treating problems after they arise. This makes financial sense, medical sense, and is good common sense.  

Specifically, health reform increases access to preventive care — like mammograms and tobacco cessation — and helps communities to be healthier. Minnesota has some of the worst health disparities in the country so it’s critical that prevention efforts also address health disparities. Fortunately, many diseases can be decreased when communities support healthy living with opportunities for physical activity, avoiding smoking and better nutrition. The state has been working to eliminate health disparities and, with state reforms that began in 2008, Minnesota has been on a path to prevention, helping thousands of residents to avoid preventable diseases like heart disease and diabetes. This makes Minnesota healthier, more productive, and saves health care costs. Health reform paves the way for Minnesota families, businesses, and communities to continue on the path to prevention and address health disparities.   

Preventive Services/Wellness Exams : More Minnesotans have access to preventive health screenings without copays.

Health Disparities : Not all Minnesotans enjoy the same level of health and health reform helps to reduce health disparities among our communities. 
Statewide Health Improvement Program : Working with communities to help make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Menu Labeling : Giving consumers the information they need to make healthy decisions.

Break Time for Nursing Mothers : Support for nursing mothers who work. 
Supporting Health for Young Adults : Health reform helps Minnesota youth make healthy decisions and supports young parents to pursue higher education goals. 
Strengthening our Public Health System : Public health protects our state from avoidable disease, injuries and environmental risks, which keeps us healthier and reduces health care costs.

What do we mean by prevention?

Prevention of disease and disability is grouped under three categories: primary prevention (preventing disease from occurring), secondary prevention (diagnosing disease early on), and tertiary prevention (recovery and rehabilitation from disease).  Health reform addresses all of these levels of prevention with an increasing emphasis on primary prevention because of its proven effectiveness and low cost compared to treating disease after it begins.

Do we as a country spend a lot on prevention?

No. Only four cents of every health care dollar is spent on prevention currently.  Studies have shown that investment of $10 per person per year in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save the country over $16 billion and Minnesota over $400 million, annually within five years.

Source: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities Report, 2008.

How does health reform strengthen Minnesota’s prevention efforts?

Health reform prioritizes prevention in new ways — for individuals, businesses, and communities. There are incentives for workers to participate in wellness programs like lower premiums, up to 30 percent of the cost of employee-only coverage under the plan, with room to up this to 50 percent with the approval of the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury. Many Minnesota employers and workers already participate in wellness programs and these new incentives will encourage even broader participation.

Through health reform, Minnesota is also helping people enrolled in Minnesota’s Medicaid program prevent diabetes and other chronic disease by participating in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program.  This focus on prevention will help Minnesotans stay healthier, and save health care costs.  Through the Minnesota Diabetes Prevention Project, which will begin Jan. 1, enrollees in Medical Assistance, Minnesota’s Medicaid program, will have the opportunity to participate in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program at 30 sites across the metro area over the next five years. The project will be administered by the Minnesota Departments of Human Services and Health.

Health reform also created the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council and an Advisory Group to have clear goals coordinate prevention efforts across the country and in states.  New resources are available to states to pursue these goals. 

What can I do to prevent disease and disability?

There are many things we do every day to prevent disease and disability, sometimes without even thinking about it. Covering one’s cough, staying home when sick, or washing hands regularly are good examples. Explore the Minnesota Department of Health website for insights in disease and disability prevention for you, your family, and your community.


  • We Can Prevent Diabetes MN (PDF)
    We Can Prevent Diabetes MN will provide an opportunity for about 3,200 Minnesota health care program (MHCP) enrollees to participate in a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).