Tim Botos for the Canton Repository
County commissioners continue path toward implementing program.
Stark County commissioners continue a move toward creation of a wellness program for county government employees.
They’d previously published a request for proposals, seeking third-party vendors to implement and run what likely will be a voluntary program for more than 1,500 workers.
After sorting through responses from 11 companies, they’ve narrowed the field to three. They plan to meet with each — BeWell Solutions, Interactive Health and Aultcare — in two weeks.
The depth and breadth of such an offering has yet to be shaped, but it’s likely to be gradually phased in. Employers Health of Jackson Township, hired as a consultant, helped create and shepherd through the proposals to get the plan to this point.
$16 MILLION PER YEAR
The county spends $16 million per year on employee and family health care benefits through its self-funded insurance plan.
Wellness programs are attractive to large employers because some studies suggest healthier employees are more productive workers and will save employers money in the long run due to reduced health care costs.
On Tuesday, commissioners met with Wayne County administrator Patrick C. Herron to obtain information about a wellness program put into place there in 2005.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Herron told them.
Wayne County commissioners employ a full time registered nurse to oversee and run their program. Herron said about 80 percent of Wayne’s government employees participate in the program, and the addition of an on-site clinic could be in the works by 2016.
Herron presented results of an internal study, which showed participating employees averaged 7 percent less expense on health care claims and made 10 percent fewer visits to emergency rooms than employees who weren’t engaged in wellness.
“It’s a habit,” he explained, of ingraining lifestyle changes.
In Wayne County, wellness participants are required to earn at least five ‘points’ per year by completing such tasks as: Health care screenings, exercise classes, dieting journals, routine medical tests and appointments and attendance at some health-related events.
As an incentive, wellness participants are rewarded with a reduction in their out-of-pocket co-pay expenses, which can save them hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.