Sue Reid for Solon Times


City council’s finance committee approved preparing legislation last week to accept the proposal of Be Well Solutions, a Solon company, as third-party administrator of an employee wellness program.

The cost to Be Well Solutions for the one-year contract is $25,850.

The city interviewed five companies of 10 proposals it received, with Be Well Solutions believed to be the “best fit” for the city and its culture, Human Resources Coordinator Jessica Vest told the committee.

The fee proposal, which is an estimate, is based on the number of expected participants and includes biometric screenings, health risk assessment, coaching, incentive tracking and on-site presentations, among other services. The hope is to expand the program to cover all the city’s 283 employees and their spouses, Ms. Vest said.

“Wellness programs have been gaining popularity over the last decade as a way to control and even lessen employee health-care costs by improving the overall well-being of employees,” she said.

Previously, there had been a citywide wellness program, but this is the first wellness program specifically targeted at city employees. Healthy Solon had limited success with employees.

“The administration is striving for the continuity needed to keep employees continually engaged and reminded of wellness, which is needed to drive a substantial change in our employees’ well-being and their health-care costs,” Ms. Vest said.

The goal of the program is to provide opportunities to participating city employees to engage, educate and empower them in leading healthy and active lifestyles that support overall well-being. The focus will be on common chronic conditions that affect a large portion of the city’s employee population and drive significant costs for treatment.

Ms. Vest noted that results won’t be realized right away with the employee wellness program. “It will be a process,” she said.

Councilman William D. Mooney said this type of program won’t work without incentives.

“Money is the biggest incentive for this type of program,” Ms. Vest said of the information she has been given. Council would need to be involved if money is to be given.

“We’re optimistic that city council will allow the administration to offer incentives to employees for participating in the program,” city Human Resources Director Thomas Cornhoff has said. “The methodology of a point system that would determine the incentives has not yet been finalized.” An example of a possible incentive to get people to participate would be to reduce premium costs if a points threshold is met.

“That might entice the employee to fill out the health risk-assessment forms in light of the economic savings,” Mr. Cornhoff explained.

The forms are a major component of participating in the overall program. The purpose of a third-party administrator, he said, is to ensure confidentiality as employees fill out the forms.

Be Well Solution’s fee is split between biometric screening, health-risk assessments and monthly wellness programming. One of the reasons the proposal was favored, Ms. Vest said, was because the company performs on-site biometric screenings in-house.

Mr. Mooney asked how the wellness program will reduce health-care costs for the city.

“Being a self-insured community, those are savings we should see,” Mr. Cornhoff answered. “If the program works properly, we should have less health-care costs charged to the city.”

The savings will be tough to determine in the short term, Ms. Vest said. Also, a future goal is to work something into contract renewals with bargaining units.

“This is a great idea,” Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany said of the employee wellness program. She also is happy a Solon company was chosen.

Be Well Solutions is co-owned by Bill Frankel, whose wife, Jill, is director of senior services for the city. City Finance Director Dennis Kennedy said this isn’t a conflict of interest in that Ms. Frankel didn’t play any role in the selection and that it was a competitively bid situation. She wasn’t on the bid committee, didn’t have a say in the selection and won’t play any role in the administration of the contract.