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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: March 30, 2010
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 employers.

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 healthcare spending

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 programs.

"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 lifestyle."

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 partnership."

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 for business."

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 coverage.

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.


  This article was taken from:
Wellness Program Management Advisor

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