Be the healthiest nation in one generation

Print this page

Friday, April 11: Be the Healthiest Nation in One Generation

For the first time in decades, the current generation isn’t as healthy as the one that came before. Communities need to band together to take a stance against this disturbing trend to make sure that children and young adults have bright, healthy futures. Public health professionals can lead the way by helping communities identify the resources and information available to keep everyone healthy and safe.

Did you know?

  • The U.S. spends far more on health care than any other country, with such costs rising tenfold from 1980 to 2010 and expected to rise faster than national income during the foreseeable future. However, investing just $10 per person each year in proven, community-based public health efforts could save the nation more than $16 billion within five years. [1] 
  •  By 2020, the direct benefits of the federal Clean Air Act will have reached almost $2 trillion, much more than the $65 billion it will have cost to implement the law. About 85 percent of the $2 trillion is attributable to decreases in premature death and illness related to air pollution. [2]
  • Twenty-three to one: That's the rate of the return on investment in clean water technologies in the first half of the 20th century. [3]
  • Widening access to care by investing in expanded Medicaid eligibility, which is encouraged and funded via the Affordable Care Act, results in better health outcomes and reductions in mortality, especially among communities already struggling with health problems. [4] 
  • The Health Care Innovation Awards are funding up to $1 billion in awards to organizations that implement the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, particularly those with the highest health care needs. [5]

Start Here:

  • APHA promotes “Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments.” The guide was created by the American Public Health Association, Public Health Institute and the California Department of Public Health in response to growing interest in using collaborative approaches to improve population health by embedding health considerations into decision-making processes across a broad array of sectors. Share these details and policies with local public health professionals.
  • There are numerous ways that the Affordable Care Act will benefit specific populations such as children and parents, childless adults, the elderly, women, low-income individuals and families, LGBT individuals and families, racial and ethnic minorities and others. The ACA will also benefit small businesses, health care providers, and states. Visit APHA’s website for consumer education resources on the ACA.
  • Visit HealthCare.gov to learn more about newly available options for health care and enroll in coverage provided under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Promote educational webinars hosted by national organizations such as APHA, CDC, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with your community so that they know where to go for the most up-to-date information on policy changes that impact public health. Host an after-party to help answer any additional questions.
  • Partner with a local university’s public health department to help educate the community on public health options available to them. Learn about innovative project taking place at these institutions and how they could impact your community.


[1] Levi, J. et al, Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities. Trust for America’s Health. Feb. 2009.

[2] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020. March 2011.

[3] Cutler D, Miller G. The role of public health improvements in health advances: The 20th Century United States, 2004. National Bureau of Economic Research.

[4] Sommers B, Baicker K, Epstein A. Mortality and Access to Care Among Adults After State Medicaid Expansions. New England Journal of Medicine 2012; 367 (11), 1025-1034.

[5] Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, http://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Health-Care-Innovation-Awards/