Advanced Search
Current and Breaking News for Professionals, Consumers and Media

Click here to learn how to advertise on this site and for ad rates.

Guest Columnist Author: Paul B. Handel, M.D., senior vice president and enterprise chief medical officer, Health Care Service Corporation Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Health Care Service Corporation Incentivize its Own Employees to Lose 30 Tons Through Innovative Wellness Program

By Paul B. Handel, M.D., senior vice president and enterprise chief medical officer, Health Care Service Corporation
Jan 18, 2012 - 4:43:09 PM

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Ezine
For Email Marketing you can trust

Email this article
 Printer friendly page
( - The poor health status of many American workers costs the economy an estimated $153 billion in lost productivity, much of it due to obesity and chronic illnesses. Those who are overweight and have one or two chronic conditions have three times as many unhealthy days per month, leading to lost work time and “presenteeism,” or unproductive workdays.

To fight the rising cost of healthcare, some companies are cutting back on employee health coverage or raising premiums and deductibles on their workers. While this approach may save money for the employer in the short term, it doesn’t help employees become healthier and more productive, or reduce absenteeism.
A fully integrated workplace wellness program, on the other hand, can actually move the needle on employee health and morale, and eventually the employer’s healthcare expenses. Such programs embrace a wide array of tools to change employee behaviors and attitudes, ranging from nutrition, exercise, and weight control, to free wellness visits, one-on-one chronic disease coaching, and stop-smoking incentives.

Many employers have viewed wellness programs as a nice extra when times are flush. We believe that the obesity epidemic and the rising toll of diabetes now make them a strategic imperative.

At Health Care Services Corporation (HCSC)—owner and operator of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico—we’ve adopted what we think are best-in-class wellness programs for our own employees and our customers. And we employed resources and financial incentives to make sure employees know we’re serious. In addition to tying wellness to our annual bonuses, employees can earn real money (up to $200 a year) for taking an annual wellness exam and logging their physical activity on a Web site, for example.
Our fitness centers have state of the art equipment and classes and are offered at a discount. In addition, we offer discount programs for flexible gym memberships for employees and members across the country. And our cafeteria services ‘FIT’ meals are guaranteed to be moderate in fat calories, cholesterol and fat.

Employees at HCSC have collectively lost 53,139 lbs of weight in 2011 – majorly surpassing the 20 ton weight loss goal HCSC originally instituted. Shrona Carter, for example, a customer advocate specialist with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, lost 67 pounds in 16 months. And Kim Miller, an accounting clerk with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, dropped 6% body fat, dropped her cholesterol and blood sugar by 12 points, and was able stop taking certain medications as she took better control of her health.
Additionally, we altered our premium structure to penalize people who smoked. At the same time, we instituted a smoking cessation program, which achieved a 40% quit rate. The number of employees who smoke dropped 8%, bringing an estimated $918,836 in health coverage claim cost savings.

We set the 20-ton weight-loss goal for 2011, with the tools in place to assist our employees in achieving results. We are proud that our more than 16,000 employees lost those 20 tons four months ahead of schedule – and ended up surpassing 30,000 tons.


For advertising and promotion on please contact Mike McCurdy: [email protected] or 877-634-9180 is syndicated worldwide and has over 7,000 journalists as subscribers.

Top of Page

Guest Columnist
Latest Headlines

+ Writing On the Wall: The CFPB’s Aimed at Healthcare Providers – Are You Ready?
+ 3 Reasons Why Water Testing is Critical for Care Providers
+ How Much Medicine Does Healthcare Throw Away Each Year?
+ A Look Into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD)
+ Why Are Prescription Drugs So Expensive?
+ Healthcare’s 2015 Data Breaches: Why the Cloud Isn’t Responsible
+ Birth Control Coverage Should Always Be Guaranteed
+ How a Hybrid Concierge Program Enabled me to Care for ALL of My Patients
+ A Cardiologist Moves to Concierge Medicine
+ What is Your New Year’s Resolution?

Contact Us | Job Listings | Help | Site Map | About Us
Advertising Information | HND Press Release | Submit Information | Disclaimer

Site hosted by Sanchez Productions