SHIP Frequently Asked Questions

The Statewide Health Improvement Program

farmer at table

SHIP is a critical component of Minnesota’s health reform initiative to reduce health care costs in Minnesota.

What is SHIP?
Why do we need SHIP?
How does SHIP help?
How will Minnesota look different because of SHIP?
How does SHIP help lower health care costs?
How much money does SHIP get?

How will we know if SHIP is effective?


What is SHIP?
The Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) helps Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives by preventing the leading causes of chronic disease: tobacco and obesity.

SHIP launched as part of Minnesota’s Vision for a Better State of Health, the bipartisan health reform package enacted in 2008. SHIP makes it easier for Minnesotans to make healthy choices where we live, learn, work and play. 

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Why do we need SHIP?
As the state’s lead public health agency, MDH believes we must address the top three preventable causes of illness and death in the U.S.: tobacco use/exposure, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

  • These three factors have been estimated to cause 35 percent of all deaths in the U.S., or 800,000 deaths each year.
  • Chronic diseases account for an estimated 75 percent of health care spending in the U.S.
  • In Minnesota, nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. The percent of children who are overweight or obese is also rising.
  • Less than a quarter of Minnesota adults eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Only slightly more than half of Minnesota adults get at least a moderate level of exercise.
  • Seventeen percent of Minnesota adults are current smokers, and many others are subjected to secondhand smoke.
In order to make an impact, SHIP relies on current research and best practices as developed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leaders in health improvement.

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How does SHIP help?
Communities employ evidence-based strategies in four settings: schools, communities, worksites, and health care.

While traditional prevention programs focus on individual behavior change, behavior change alone can be difficult to sustain beyond the life of the program or the individual’s involvement in the program. However, behavior change can be maintained if the environment supports it. Therefore, SHIP aims to make it easier for Minnesotans to choose healthy behaviors.

For example,

  • Rather than try to convince people to walk more, local communities may see the need for more sidewalks so that people CAN walk more.
  • Rather than asking kids to eat healthier, with SHIP a school may decide to work with local farmers to bring in fresh produce for the students.
  • Rather than simply asking people not to smoke around children, communities are deciding to make parks and playgrounds smoke free.
  • Rather than telling people fruits and vegetables are good for them, SHIP works to make fruits and vegetables more available in their community.

See the strategies page

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How does Minnesota look different because of SHIP?

  • More communities are biking and walking friendly as a result of community design.
  • More children are walking and biking to school.
  • More residents have access to high quality, nutritious foods in their communities through Farm to School programs, healthy school meals/snacks, grocery and corner stores, and farmers markets.
  • More employees have healthy vending in their worksite.
  • More post-secondary campuses are tobacco-free.
  • More parks and outdoor recreation facilities are tobacco-free.

See the results page

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How does SHIP help lower health care costs?
Studies prove that tobacco use and obesity increase health care costs.

  • Tobacco use and exposure cost Minnesota $2.9 billion annually (2007)
  • Obesity costs Minnesota $2.8 billion annually (2006)
  • Each additional unit of BMI increased medical charges by nearly 2 percent.
  • A history of tobacco use was associated with 26 percent higher medical charges.
  • Each additional day of physical activity per week reduced medical charges by almost 5 percent.
  • 27 percent of health care charges for adults over age 40 are associated with people being physically inactive, overweight and/or obese.
  • Per capita private health insurance spending for obese adults was $1,272 higher than that for normal weight adults in 2002.

See SHIP: Lowering Costs Through Prevention (PDF:282KB/2 pages)

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How much money does SHIP get?
SHIP grants are awarded to community health boards, which are made up of one or more counties and cities. November 1, 2013, MDH awarded grants for November 2014 and 2015.
When SHIP began four years ago, it was statewide with $47 million over two years; however, in 2012 and 2013 SHIP received a 70 percent cut and included only about half the state.
In 2013, the legislature supported SHIP with $35 million for fiscal year 2014 and 2015, and now SHIP funding became available statewide once again.

See the SHIP FY 2014-15 grants fact sheet ( PDF:498KB/2 pages)

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How will we know if SHIP is effective?
The changes implemented through SHIP will require considerable time and effort, so large-scale, population-based changes in health behaviors will take time to emerge.

Nonetheless, evaluation and effective outcomes are an essential component of SHIP. Both the Minnesota Department of Health and individual SHIP grantees will measure outcomes of the program. Measurements will provide information about:

  • Health care costs.
  • Risk factors of tobacco use/exposure and obesity and related chronic disease.
  • Individual health behaviors linked to tobacco use/exposure and obesity.
  • Policy, systems and environmental changes that are proven to reduce tobacco use/exposure and obesity.
  • Activities that move local communities toward those changes.

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Updated Thursday, 31-Jul-2014 09:03:01 CDT