Medical Self Care

Health insurance carriers offer many options for your employees to become better healthcare consumers and make more intelligent decisions about their healthcare. Promoting the information to your employees is vital. If the information is not made available to them, they will probably not utilize these great options. At Open Enrollment meetings these topics may have been discussed, but the employees were overloaded with data and probably did not retain it all.

selfcareI suggest implementing a marketing plan to promote these services either monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Your marketing should include multiple layers of marketing such as flyers, posters, table tents in break rooms, payroll stuffers, lunch and learns, webinars, social media blasts, links on intranet, or emails.  Below are services available, but they may differ depending on the carrier, the group size, and whether you are fully insured or self-funded.

  • Telahealth
  • Ask-a-nurse
  • Prescription drug services
  • Find a provider/facility
  • Healthcost estimator
  • Preventive care
  • Health coaching
  • Advocacy programs
  • Use carriers’ websites and apps for access to insurance cards, benefits, claims, and much more.
  • Wellness discounts

If you are unsure of your carrier’s offerings or would like assistance to prepare this information, please contact me and I will be happy to assist you.

How Healthy Employees Save You Money

America is one of the most obese countries in the world. As a result, many Americans suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. On average, two-thirds of all US medical spending goes toward combatting the complications associated with these two ailments. The majority of these expenses are related to health problems resulting from unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles that compound existing issues. For example, lack of exercise and poor diet exacerbates existing health issues and leads to employees visiting the doctor’s office rather than their workplace. To mitigate the prevalence of health problems and rising medical costs, employers offer workplace wellness programs.

What are workplace wellness programs?

Workplace wellness programs range from healthy lunch and snack options in the office break room to on-site fitness centers. The aim of wellness programs is to improve the health and well-being of employees, increase their productivity, reduce their risk of costly chronic disease, and improve control of chronic conditions. These programs consist of two components: a lifestyle management program and a disease management program. Lifestyle management programs promote the idea of health promotion, which according to the World Health Organization is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. The other aspect, disease management, represents a coordinated effort to help employees with an existing chronic disease to take better care of themselves to avoid serious complications associated with their disease. Workplace wellness programs have grown in popularity and now represent a $6 billion a year industry in the USA.

What saves employers money?

According to a study conducted by the Rand Corporation, the workplace wellness program itself reduces health care expenses for the employer by about $30 per member per month (PMPM). In layman’s terms, a company can save a boat load of money if they pay attention to the health needs of their employees. Of the two components, the disease management program generates the most savings PMPM because the measures implemented in this component cut the number and length of expensive hospital stays as a result of chronic disease. On the other hand, lifestyle management programs do not offer massive savings PMPM; however, one must not forget about their importance in contributing to healthy lifestyles. More employees partake in the lifestyle management programs than disease management programs and participation in lifestyle management increases productivity and reduces absenteeism, two metrics that contribute to elevated company revenues.

Benefits of workplace wellness programs.

Workplace wellness programs benefit both the employer and the employee. For the employer, these programs allow them to save money on health care costs. While statistically disease management programs ultimately save the employer more money than lifestyle management programs, there are significant benefits to both. The benefits of disease management programs are realized in a shorter term because they combat imminent health care costs. Lifestyle management programs’ benefits are more of a long-term benefit because they contribute to prevention of chronic disease down the road. Employers need to have clear-cut goals for their workplace wellness program that focus not only on disease management to mitigate health care costs but also on lifestyle management so that the people that they employ can enjoy a better quality of life that translates into increased productivity. Workplace wellness is a win for everyone involved!

Do Activity Trackers Belong in Your Wellness Program?

Activity Trackers

Are activity trackers a step in the right direction?

Employers want healthier employees and some are willing to put money on it. Employers are buying, or subsidizing, activity trackers for their employees. This trend is showing momentum, but is it making an impact?

Of the many wellness articles on this subject, many companies are happy with their decision to provide fitness trackers to their employees. Some employers use it as tool for employees to take responsibility for their health and this is an avenue to assist them, while others use it for tracking and “friendly” competitions throughout the workplace. The end result is more active employees. For example the wellness vendor, beBetter, states that only 20% of their business uses some type of device or activity tracker. This number jumps to an 80% participation rate if the employer subsidizes the cost of an activity tracker.

A study done by the American College of Sports Medicine shows people who wore Fitness Trackers spent less time sitting, more time being active, and lost more weight. One of the many benefits of the devices is the social aspects which help motivate employees. Most devices allow the user to start or join competitions with coworkers and friends. This type of communication and reminders are great motivational tools that can spark more physical activity.

Fitbit seems to have the market on corporate wellness, but there are other products hitting the market. Here is an article from Wearable listing the best fitness trackers in 2016. They offer a quick review along with price points. The cost to implement is anywhere from $60 to $120 per employee, depending on the device.

When there are so many benefits to a healthy workplace, allocating money to a well-rounded wellness plan pays off in more way than one. Happy and healthy employees are more productive, engaged and may reduce your employee benefits costs in the long run. Please contact Trish Blocker, W3’s On-Site Wellness Coordinator, if you have any questions about instituting activity trackers into your wellness programs.

Why Your Employees Aren’t Participating in Wellness Programs

So you have done everything right, planned a lunch and learn, booked a fantastic speaker, provided lunch, and then waited for everyone to show up.  Or you had a grand idea about a walking competition to get everyone moving more. Then the lack of participation is shocking and you are left to wonder why. According to WELCOA (Wellness Council of America) the first few steps of a successful wellness program is to survey the employees about their interests. If you skipped that step, it is like getting a teenager to clean their room, it Is not happening. Remember “wellness is something you do FOR people, not TO them”.

HealthMine, provider of a personalized health portal for employers and insurers, surveyed 1,200 consumers  about wellness programs and the reasons that hold them back from participating. Lack of time is usually high on everyone’s list., which is not surprising and below are the other barriers listed on their aggregate report:

11 Reasons Why Employees Don't Use Wellness Programs

Many of these obstacles are similar to what clients at W3 are experiencing. The employee interest survey, senior level endorsement of the program, and proper promotion can help overcome some of these objections. Also, as you continue your wellness program you need to keep a pulse on the employees by tracking participation, using surveys and feedback constructively, and be consistent. Eventually, you will see a culture shift towards healthier lifestyles and the employees privacy and security concerns will lessen.

Be transparent with your aggregate results so the employee will feel some ownership in the wellness programming. A dashboard on your intranet displaying  aggregate biometric results, participation numbers from wellness competitions, success stories, and future wellness offerings can help make your program more sustainable.  “Arming individuals with clinical data helps make wellness meaningful. But overcoming inertia to take a healthy action is the first step,” said Bryce Williams, CEO and President of HealthMine. If your Wellness Program is not getting the participation that it should contact me to analyze where you can tweak your programming, promotions, incentives, etc to have better engagement.

Download Free Wellness Calendar

Maintain Don’t Gain Competitions – Creating a Healthy Workplace

Maintain, Don't Gain Competition! - W3ins.comDid you know that the average American gains about one pound during the holidays? How much of that new found weight do you think they will lose in the new year? Not much, if any. That can add up to a lot of extra weight over the years. Help fuel a happy and healthy workplace with a friendly competition.

This season celebrate your health by making a pledge to eating right and exercising more. Choose nutritious foods, eat healthy portion sizes, exercise, and don’t forget to get enough sleep. Email or post weekly health-related articles to keep the competition fresh in their mind.

Take workplace wellness to the next level. Challenge your employees to take this Healthy Holiday Pledge or host a competition between employees. Have them weigh-in early December and weigh-out the first week in January. You may have better participation if you offer prizes to the employees or teams that maintained their original weight. Is your budget tight for incentives? Have a raffle for the winners.  Each winner can earn one raffle chance for maintaining and an additional raffle chance if they lose weight during the competition. The prize could be a “free” jeans week, an afternoon off, or a gift card to a sporting goods store.

Wallace welch & Willingham employees participate almost every year. You can hear it in the breakroom. “Gotta Maintain!” “I’m going for a walk. I have to walk off that bite of brownie!” Our employees are pumped to have a chance to win! We usually do a raffle for a cash prize or gift card. We have prizes for one group for those that maintained, and one for those who lost. It’s one of our most popular competitions. Most people don’t want to gain weight during the holidays, but need encouragement and a reason to stay strong and fight temptation.

7 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

6 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy During the HolidaysThe holidays are coming, the holidays are coming! This is a time for parties, celebrations, calorie-rich desserts, and lots of libations. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make it through the holidays without gaining weight? Metabolism is a big part of maintaining a healthy weight and/or losing weight. It is how well your body burns energy to keep up basic functions and as we get older your metabolism slows down. Increasing your metabolism would make it easier to keep off the holiday weight gain.

Ways to dial up your metabolism and have a healthy holiday season!

  1. Be active. Burn the calories before your body stores them into fat. Also, an active body is less likely to overeat or make poor food choices. If you have a flag football game scheduled for the 3 hours after dinner, you are less likely to eat too much.
  2. Eat before exercising. A light, healthy snack before you exercise will rev up your metabolism and help you burn more calories. Try a simple snack like a piece of fruit, protein shake or an egg and toast. Here is a list of 50 great pre-and post-workout snacks to give you some ideas!
  3. Eat Smart. Keep it simple; less fat, more fiber, and more water. Complex carbs are also good (fruits, vegetables, whole grains). A good tip is to fill up your plate with the healthiest options, and leave the no-so-healthy options for seconds.
  4. Sleep. Studies have shown that 8 hours sleep a day can help increase your metabolism and thus manage your weight easier.
  5. Eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast can increase your resting metabolism by 10%.
  6. Avoid fats. Most fats that you eat go straight to fat cells and are not used to burn energy. Avoid processed foods because the usually contain high levels of fat and sodium.
  7. Revitalize old recipes. Take your favorite recipes and look for substitutions to make them a little healthier. If a recipes calls for 1 stick of butter, try it with half. If you normally use canned green beans, opt for fresh cut beans. The smallest changes can make a world of difference.

So you can enjoy your holidays, just plan your festivities and keep moving.

Dial Up Your Metabolism and Make Your Holidays Healthy!

Breast Cancer Awareness and Your Employees

Breast Cancer Awareness and W3 Employees.

Breast Cancer Awareness and W3 Employees.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about spreading one simple, powerful message: detection and prevention can save lives. Talk to your employees and post articles such as this and help to bring awareness.

Early breast cancer detection and prompt treatment is vital to a successful outcome.

The size of breast cancer and how far it has spread are two of the most important factors in determining the prognosis, or the chances for survival. Early screening is critical to catching the cancer when it’s more likely to be smaller and contained in the breast.

Early Screening Recommendations

The American Cancer Society recommends that women have:

  • Clinical breast exams every 3 years in their 20s and 30s, and every year after 40
  • Annual mammograms starting at age 40
  • Awareness of how their breasts normally look and feel, so they can report any changes to their doctor for further examination

Lower your risk of breast cancer with these five behaviors.

Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your breast cancer risk. Extra weight can increase you insulin levels which are linked to some cancers.

Exercise regularly. A study from Women’s Health Initiative showed an 18% reduction in risk with only 1.5 hours per week of brisk walking. The American Cancer Society recommends a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity, or a mixture of both. Make sure to spread the workouts throughout the week for the most benefit.

Don’t sit too long. “Sitting is the new smoking.”  Studies have shown sitting for more than 60 minutes at a time without stretching or standing can cause irreversible health concerns. One of these concerns is the likelihood of developing cancer, especially in women. The risks increase if you sit more than 6 hours a day.

Limit alcohol. Studies have shown 2-5 alcoholic drinks a day have shown higher risks of developing cancer than those women who have one drink a day. Some research even shows as little as 3-6 glasses of wine a week can slightly increase your chance of developing breast cancer.

Avoid or limit hormone replacement therapy. Many postmenopausal women consider this therapy to ease their symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, etc. Research has revealed that women that take a blend of estrogen and progestin may be more likely to increase their chance of breast cancer. Discuss this with your physician and the options to control your menopausal symptoms and if you decide to use HRT to use a minimal dosage and for the shortest amount of time necessary.

 

Are Your Employees Getting their Flu Shots?

 

Employee with Flu ShotFacts About the Flu and Flu Vaccine

Healthy adults can spread the flu virus the day before they feel sick. On average, each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu related complications. Prevention is the main defense to minimizing the risk of spreading the flu virus. Help fight the flu for yourself, your family and those around you.

Prevention Suggestions:

· Get the flu vaccine.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.
· Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading the flu to others. The CDC recommends staying home 24 hours after the fever is gone.
· If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness. These drugs can make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick, but it suggested starting this treatment within the first two days of symptoms.

Where can you get the flu shot?

Your employees can go to participating network doctors or participating retail locations. This is a covered benefit for most groups; just remind them to show their insurance card. Check your insurance website for participating pharmacies or contact your wellness coordinator for assistance with plan information.

Keeping employees healthy and happy is important to your company.

 

Promote Men’s Wellness in Your Workplace

Men’s Health Week is Coming up!June is Men's Health Month

On June 15th – 21st, promote healthy lifestyles in your workplace to maintain a robust wellness strategy.

Get the Wellness Screenings You Need

Screenings are an important part of your healthcare and lifestyle. Make sure you are up to date with your age specific requirements.

Here are common screenings you should get:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm – If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
  • Colorectal cancer – Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 (or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer).
  • Depression – Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for depression, particularly if recently have felt down, sad or hopeless or have little interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed.
  • Diabetes – Get screened for diabetes if you blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure. Diabetes (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves and other body parts.
  • High blood pressure – Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.
  • High cholesterol – If you are 35 or older, have your cholesterol checked. High cholesterol increases your chance of heart disease, stroke and poor circulation.
  • Lung cancer – If you are between the ages of 55 and 80 or have a history of smoking, check with your doctor about getting screened for lung cancer.
  • Overweight and obesity – The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI). You can find your BMI by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator.
  • Immunizations
    • Get a flu shot every year.
    • Check the recommended vaccines for your age here.

You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about (such as prostate or skin cancer), not just the ones listed here.

Get Healthy, Stay Healthy.


What can I do as an employer?

  • Promote a “Wear Blue” day –Maybe the Friday before Father’s Day?
  • Make brochures and information available to them regarding Men’s Health issues and prevention guidelines.
  • Host a picnic, healthy lunch, seminar, or sporting event to celebrate the awareness of Men’s Health.

Source: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality