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More companies start wellness initiative programs
Rochester, N.Y -- Any given day at ABVI-Goodwill in Rochester, you can see someone in the offices pedaling their way through work.
There are a dozen mini stationary bicycles for the employees to use thanks to the organizations good health initiative.
About a year ago, ABVI-Goodwill was notified by their insurance benefits broker that they had a large number of claimsmore than the Rochester average.
Like many businesses and organizations, ABVI-Goodwill looked for way they could keep the rising cost of healthcare down. So Christine Herrman, a learning specialist with the organization, was tasked with finding ways to help the employees become healthier.
I think we are kind of late in the gamea lot of companies are incorporating healthy activities or encouraging that, Herrman said. The data shows that soon, it will be one in three people who have diabetes which is not just a financial burden on our country but a lifestyle burden on people.
The good health initiative offers incentives for employees to make healthy lifestyle changes. An employee can get up to $300 in health insurance discounts and even employees who are not signed up with the company insurance can work towards earning a paid day off.
Chris Frank, an information and technology services team leader, said this program has helped him make healthier choices.
The incentives and saving money on the health insurance really gave me the motivation to make the decisions to work on my health, he said.
Frank says since he became a participant he has lost 25 pounds. He takes the stairs more often, he attends "lunch and learn" sessions on different health topics and he even ran in the company-sponsored 5K.
There are also company health fairs, at-work fitness challenges and Weight Watchers at work.
The program, really in a short amount of time, has changed the culture [at ABVI-Goodwill] from being one where health wasnt really on the radar to where the health of the employee is really important, Frank said.
According to Herrman, about 60 percent of the 600-person workforce participates in the program. She says its too soon to tell if the good health initiative has led to reduced healthcare costs for the organization but thats what she expects.
Every year health insurance goes up, she said. Were always looking to still offer health insurance at the lowest rate we can and the more we can do to stop our rates from going up, the better for our employees and the organization itself.
Geoff Gerbasi is a consultant and healthcare reform practice leader with Gallagher Benefit Services in Fairport.
He says more companies are either starting workplace wellness initiatives or becoming more aggressive with their programs.
What we have traditionally seen in the clients who are little further along down this path is a pretty good response, he said. It improves workplace camaraderie among those who participate in the wellness plane and it keeps rates down for that population.
Some companies have decided to tie the weight loss and results to health insurance discounts. Herrman says ABVI-Goodwil's program does not add that pressure. Employees earn discounts and paid time off by signing into health-related events and by detailing the healthy food and exercise choices theyve made.