Employee Health Initiative Targets Health Care Costs
Employees representing the City’s wellness council, occupational health clinic, and representatives from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBS) presented a report card to the City Council Monday night, March 5, on the overall health of City employees and strategies being implemented to improve it.
During the City’s health fair last October, employees and their insured spouse completed a health risk assessment (HRA) on which they provided information on their family health history, their individual state of health, and their level of physical activity. Three hundred eighty nine employees and insured spouses, or 59% of individuals covered by the City’s health plan, completed the HRA. Tabulated by BCBS, aggregate results of the HRA identified several areas the wellness council and occupational health clinic staff, with support from BCBS, will need to target to improve overall employee health and help control rising health care costs.
As the third party administrator for the City’s employee health insurance plan, BCBS is partnering with the wellness council and occupational health clinic staff to develop and implement programs that will assist employees in making necessary lifestyle changes with the goal of improving their overall health. A valuable resource in this effort is the BCBS website, where employees can access a wealth of information on a variety of health-related topics, nutrition, physical activity guidelines, as well as obtain assistance in developing an action plan for improving their health. Employees can also print a summary of their health condition which they can share with their doctor. Through BCBS employees may also receive one-on-one health counseling from a registered nurse who will assist them with their health-related questions and help them develop short-term plans for health management. To encourage employees to become more physically active, the BCBS Blue Points program awards points to employees who regularly exercise that can be redeemed for prizes.
The occupational heath clinic is working closely with BCBS to address employee health needs. Under the direction of Dr. James Strickland and Occupational Health Nurse Sheila Traywick, the clinic provides walk-in medical services, generic drug consultations, educational services, preventative health services, and high-risk disease management. The clinic also provides primary health care service to employees and spouses covered under the City’s health insurance plan. “The HRA assisted us in identifying existing health conditions in our employee population,” said Dr. Strickland. “This information is invaluable in our efforts to design health educational programs and support services that will meet the needs of our workforce.”
The wellness council is working with BCBS and the occupational health clinic staff in providing educational opportunities and developing programs to improve employee fitness. The wellness council sponsors lunch and learns, fitness programs, distributes information to employees via newsletters and announcement boards, and schedules workplace presentations on a host of wellness-related topics year-round. The wellness council consists of employees from all municipal departments who are committed to publicizing council-sponsored programs and generating employee participation.
“With the education and management tools provided by BCBS, the services available through our occupational health clinic, and the efforts of our wellness council the City has implemented a multi-faceted approach to improve employee health in a way that will be mutually beneficial to everyone involved,” said Human Resource Director Aaron P Noble Jr., Ed.D. “Should we be successful, and we have every reason to believe we will be, everyone with a stake in this will benefit. Employees will benefit by obtaining a higher level of fitness and slowing, better managing and/or preventing the development of a serious health condition. The City benefits through lower employee absenteeism and reduced on-the-job injuries as the result of having healthier employees. Finally, residents will also benefit as healthier employees can provide them a higher level of service.”