|Major Employers – BCBS Companies – Join To Incentivize Healthier Behavior
Smoking, obesity, and disease prevention are the focus
of a new initiative begun by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
(BCBSA), the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) and major
The two organizations, and representatives from Food
Lion LLC and DTE Energy, noted during a press briefing that employee
engagement in workplace wellness programs drive healthier behaviors and
control costs and that chronic illness accounts for 75 percent of
The BCBSA also released a new report "Engaging Consumers
@ Work" (EC@W) that said workplace education and activation programs
can increase worker participation in wellness programs by 21 percent or
more – suggesting big dividends for employers who invest in these
"Employers are drivers of innovation. More than 160
million people get their health coverage through their job and Blue
Cross and Blue Shield companies are collaborating with employers across
the country to help them achieve their goal of a healthy workforce,"
said Scott P. Serota, BCBSA president and CEO.
"Employers play a critical role in employee wellness and
they have been aggressive in developing innovative ways to improve
quality, reduce costs, and keep employees healthy," he said.
Pat Fulcher, vice president of associate services for
Food Lion, described the company’s collaboration with Blue Cross
and Blue Shield of North Carolina in the EC@W initiative, a successful
workplace walking program that evaluated its impact on worker
engagement. Food Lion’s innovative workplace wellness
initiatives, that include nutritional counseling, mammograms, flu
shots, and smoking cessation resources, were also described.
The Need To Educate
"Decreasing illness and increasing productivity are
integral to maintaining and attracting a skilled workforce," said
Fulcher. "We feel it is our responsibility to educate our associates on
the many wellness resources available to them to encourage a healthier
Richard Lueders, director of compensation and benefits
for DTE Energy in Detroit, Mich., described the company’s disease
management initiatives and participation in the Blue Care Network of
Michigan’s Healthy Blue Living.
The program rewards members who pursue health goals with
enhanced benefits at lower costs. Over a three-year period, DTE’s
disease management programs resulted in savings of more than $2.2
million in reduction of work days missed, Lueders reported.
"We are committed to creating a workplace that supports
employee health and wellness," said Lueders. "Implementing wellness
programs, including the Healthy Blue Living Program, has successfully
increased productivity and reduced costs. It’s a win-win
The result of a recent survey on what employees want
from employers in terms of health improvement, was reported by Helen
Darling, NBGH president.
Some 80 percent of employees felt that employers should
be involved in providing healthcare information to employees and 66
percent of employees support having discounts or rewards for those who
have healthy lifestyles, according to the survey results.
"Employers are putting a much higher priority on
wellness and lifestyle improvement programs than ever before," said
Darling. "Employers understand that investment in health and
productivity is good for their employees and families, as well as good
The collaborative employer initiatives were cited as
examples of what employers and Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are
doing nationwide to address the cost of care and improve healthcare
quality – a key component of BCBSA’s new proposal, "The
Pathway to Covering America: Ensuring Quality, Value and Access."
Examples of initiatives by the BCBS companies to improve
quality and value are described in "The Pathway to Covering America," a
five-part plan that builds on the employer-based system to promote
better quality care, keep healthcare affordable and improve access to
Addresses: Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, 225 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60601; www.bcbs.com. National Business Group on Health, 50 F Street NW, Suite 600, Washington DC 20001; (202) 628-9320, www.businessgrouphealth.org.