Case #2004.0

Wellness is Everyone's Business: Public-Private Partnerships for Health in Minnesota

Publication Date: August 29, 2014
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Like many other states at the time, Minnesota found itself facing several serious long-term public health challenges in the mid- and late-2000s, including rapidly rising health care costs and residents' increasing vulnerability to chronic diseases arising from unhealthy behaviors like smoking as well as higher obesity rates. Compounding these challenges, in 2008 a major economic recession took hold across the country, prompting states to target health and human services programs for extensive budget cuts. In Minnesota, even as the recession started to subside, analyses of the state budget indicated that it needed new strategies for slowing the growth rate of health care spending; and in response the state legislature passed a major health reform law that, among other things, aimed to reduce costs. A key component of this law was the establishment of the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), which sought to reduce smoking and obesity rates--two of the main drivers of a number of chronic diseases and, hence, of higher long-term health costs for the state. In designing and launching SHIP, state health officials decided to focus on developing a close partnership with the private sector. This, they believed, would enable them to combine government's wide ranging authorities and subject matter expertise in public health with the private sector's broad reach and its advanced marketing and communication practices and resources. This case tells the story of how leaders of the SHIP initiative worked with businesses and corporate executives in an effort to have as far-reaching an impact as possible. It highlights the mutual advantages of a public-private partnership while also illustrating challenges the two sides encountered as they worked to develop and implement the program.

Learning Objective:
This case explores the promise and challenges of public-private partnerships to promote workplace and community wellness and, ultimately, to improve statewide health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. More specifically, it asks students to reflect on the motivations of Minnesota public health officials and state business leaders to participate in one such partnership, the SHIP initiative, and to consider the strengths each side brought to the effort, along with any possible limitations.

Other Details

Case Author:
Jennifer Weeks
Faculty Lead:
Arnold Howitt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States