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Get better data on risks with home screening tests
A diabetic employee lost 20 pounds after two months, and his blood glucose levels dropped to the normal range.
"Although it is difficult to measure how much you have saved as employees improve their health, it is easy to understand that keeping a diabetic out of the hospital is a significant savings to our medical plan," says Karen K. Lefevre, human resources generalist at Albuquerque, NM-based Wilson & Co., Engineers and Architects.
In addition, two of the company's employees have stopped smoking. The National Cancer Society estimates that a smoker costs the average employer $3,100 in lost productivity and days missed per year. "This statistic does not include the long-term medical costs associated with smoking," says Lefevre. "Therefore, having two employees quit smoking has certainly helped defer the costs associated with our wellness program."
These are three examples of results that the company has seen as a result of its "Empowering" program, a wellness solution provided by Fort Lauderdale, FL-based HRMetrics, a human resources, wellness, and benefits consulting firm. The program gives employees and their spouses the opportunity to use home screening tests provided by Santa Barbara, CA-based BioIQ. The screening tests cost about $50 per employee.
"It is amazing to think that after only five months of participation in the Empowering wellness program, three of our at-risk employees have made lifestyle changes that have had such a significant positive impact on their health and on our medical plan," says Lefevre. Here are three benefits that companies expect to see when participating in such a program:
A health baseline for the employee population will be established.
"Knowing the baseline statistics will allow us to target our program toward health concerns that need improvement," says Lefevre. Employees and/or spouses who sent in the home test kit and completed an online Health Risk Assessment received $25, with 169 participants.
Daniel P. Adley, chief operating officer at KTA-Tator, a Pittsburgh-based consulting engineering firm that is rolling out a BioIQ program, says that home screening tests are a benchmark to measure the effectiveness of wellness initiatives and prioritizing those initiatives for 2009 and beyond. "2009 is our anchor year for companywide testing," he says. "We are not looking to see any improvements, but will be using this as our baseline year."
Adley says he expects to uncover a percentage of the workforce that is at risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes and perhaps other lifestyle-related illnesses. Based on the biometric test results, a three-year strategic plan for wellness programs is being developed.
The health of employees will improve after one year.
Lefevre says that employees and spouses will be encouraged to retest after one year of participation. At that point, anyone who has maintained or improved their health score will receive an additional monetary reward.
"We will determine the reward for maintaining or improving their score when we get a better idea of the results," says Lefevre.
When the aggregate data from the start of the program is compared to the data collected at the one year point, Lefevre says she anticipates an improvement to the employee population's baseline health score and, ultimately, a decrease in cost for the company's medical plan.
KTA-Tator's wellness committee will help employees to reduce health risks with lunch and learn programs and group contests directed at participation in health initiatives. It will encourage preventative care with education. "For example, we want to clarify that wellness exams are not subject to deductibles," says Adley. "We will also attempt to explain the benefit of preventative care." In the future, the company's funding of insurance premiums and deductibles might be linked to participation in preventative care.
"We are fortunate to have staff with undergraduate and graduate level training in food science, epidemiology biostatistics, disease and immunology, and we plan to draw upon this internal expertise," says Adley.
Employees are more satisfied.
"We have received lots of positive feedback from our employees who thank the company for caring about their health," says Lefevre. "Many employees have told us that the rollout of the wellness program was the push they needed to start making healthier lifestyle choices."
For more information on the use of home screening tests, contact:
Daniel P. Adley, Chief Operating Officer, KTA-Tator, Pittsburgh. Phone: (412) 788-1300 ext. 214. Fax: (412) 788-1306. E-mail: email@example.com.
Karen K. Lefevre, Human Resources Generalist, Wilson & Co., Engineers & Architects, Albuquerque, NM. Phone: (505) 348-4031. Fax: (505) 348-4199. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.