|Lafayette General’s health club and wellness center,
where 20 personal trainers are available to its 1,800-plus employees,
is located in the former Townhouse building across from the main hospital.
The bottom line on healthy employees is they cost less.
That’s the gist of an idea starting to take hold in the business world, as a growing number of companies and businesses implement workforce wellness programs in hopes of creating healthier employees, and hopefully, stabilizing bottom lines.
A once novel concept, the general perception of employee wellness is changing, and so is the idea’s marketability, says Elisabeth Arnold, communications director for Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette.
The idea, says Arnold, is that by screening workers for possible “at-risk” health conditions and training them on how to live healthier, an employer will see increased productivity from workers and a reduction in health care costs.
The Healthy Lives program is Lourdes’ take on workforce wellness. Launched in 2010 by the hospital’s parent company, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, the program was designed specifically for the company’s more than 10,000 employees.
Naysayers typically point to the costs associated with launching a program like Healthy Lives. But the proof will ultimately be in the numbers, Arnold says, noting that the first year of an ongoing study to quantify the program’s cost benefits will conclude in November. She says the data being collected for that study will determine whether the money required to run the Healthy Lives program is defrayed by the amount generated in health care savings.
“As a business owner, you have to ask how this will save you money. And if you look at our program, we have so many employees, it looks like crazy money,” says Arnold.
Preliminary figures are already showing a huge potential savings, she says. “If it’s true, and the program works, we save millions.”
Lafayette General Medical Center also offers a program for its employees, as well as an out-bound corporate program.
Kimmie Lyle, a registered dietician, has headed Lafayette General’s Corporate Wellness Testing Program for a little more than a year, overseeing health screenings and employee reviews for companies statewide.
“We basically just go into a company and perform preventative health screenings,” says Lyle. “We do blood work, take their blood pressure, their body fat percentage, and then identify the employees who are high-risk and give them ways to get on the right track before their condition gets more serious and more expensive to their company.”
For employers, employees suffering from chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are costly. Lyle recommends employers proactively foster what she calls a “culture of wellness in the workplace.”
“Exercise, eating a balanced diet, and effectively managing time and stress. That all plays into the big picture of wellness,” Lyle notes. “The mentality has really shifted in recent years to prevention. Because a healthier employee will be a happier employee and a happy employee is a more productive employee.”
In addition to its outbound corporate program, Lafayette General also promotes wellness among its 1,800-plus workers by offering a range of healthy living options, says Lyle.
The candy bars and donuts that once filled the hospital’s vending machines have since been replaced with healthier options. Nutritional counseling and a full-service health club featuring 20 on-staff personal trainers are also available to Lafayette General’s employees.
Incentives are another important factor in successful wellness programs, and one example is the 80 percent of Lourdes’ 1,420 employees who have become Healthy Lives participants since 2010. In addition to making the daily Healthy Lives menu item the cheapest deal on the menu, Lourdes also uses money to entice employees to achieve certain goals established in the program.
Several of the Lafayette businesses to adopt Healthy Lives are beginning to offer incentives, too, says Arnold.
The popularity of the Healthy Lives program created by Lourdes’ parent company has gone national since its launch.
Healthy Lives CEO Stephanie Mills says about 70,000 employees from 18 companies in eight states have since become participants. She says the program’s growing popularity is largely a result of the 2007 economic recession, which left many in the corporate world scratching their heads for ways to survive rising costs and plummeting profit margins.
“Our preliminary data is showing significant reductions in the costs of health care and has improved the overall health status of the participants,” notes Mills.
Mills says the number of Lourdes’ employees with an at-risk health status has dropped from 11 to 5 percent since the program’s launch two years ago. Lourdes’ insurance premiums have flat-lined as a result, and employee health plans now cost 10 percent less, Mills adds.
That success, though preliminary, has even caught the attention of the White House, where Mills recently spoke on the positives of a healthy workplace before the Health Disparities Roundtable.
By Heather Miller
Medicaid patients in Louisiana are undergoing many firsts this year with the implementation of Bayou Health, the state’s new privatized program that contracts with five private insurance companies to administer health plans to Medicaid recipients. The switch from public to private Medicaid has caused its fair share of controversy and confusion for both patients and health care providers alike, but one first to come out of the new system is a wide range of incentives for Medicaid patients who meet preventive health goals through their respective plans.
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals spokeswoman Meghan Speakes says the incentives offered to Medicaid recipients through the private companies are based on the success of similar incentive programs that the companies have implemented in other states.
“[Traditional] Medicaid doesn’t have the flexibility to do things like member incentives or enhanced benefits, but the plans have the flexibility to do so, and we know they are proven to work,” Speakes says. “This was part of our reason for adopting a coordinated care approach in Medicaid. The plans can do them at their own discretion.”
The preventative measures and the incentives that encourage healthy lifestyles could be reaching hundreds of thousands more Louisianans, many of whom include the working uninsured, if Gov. Bobby Jindal would agree to expand Medicaid eligibility under the federal Affordable Care Act. Jindal is one of nine Republican governors who have opted not to expand coverage for the state’s uninsured population,
According to a recent report from the nonprofit Louisiana Budget Project, more than 240,000 workers in the state would be added to the state’s Medicaid rolls under Medicaid expansion, a list that currently excludes all adults without children and any adult who makes more than $2,860 annually for a family of three.
The following are a few examples of the numerous incentives offered through each of the five insurance companies contracted to administer Medicaid in Louisiana:
LaCare: Free over-the-counter products mailed directly to home for the following:
• High blood pressure: $25 in products per quarter to members in high blood pressure management program who reach targets
• Children ages 3-18: $15 per child in products for parent/guardian of children who get yearly well-child check-ups
• Pregnant moms: Up to $75 in pre-natal/maternity items for reaching plan milestones
Community Health Solutions: A prepaid debit card that gets reloaded for each of the following preventative measures:
• $10 for adult wellness screenings
• $10 for diabetics who get blood screening (hemoglobin A1C) yearly
• $10 for each postpartum visit within 50 days of delivery
Amerigroup Real Solutions:
• Up to $65 in gift cards for pregnant women who complete prenatal and postpartum care.
• Free Weight Watchers meetings for qualified members age 18 and older.
-Quit smoking program: Includes coaching and nicotine replacement products.
Louisiana Healthcare Connection:
-Up to $30 for regular, annual child check-ups
-$10 for pregnancy visits and for participants in case management
-$20 for managing your diabetes
-$20 gift card may be offered to members who visit a primary care physician visit within
90 days of enrollment.
-$20 gift card for well-child visits for children ages 3-6.
-Pregnant moms: Get important information about your baby’s health with programs like Healthy First Steps.
St. Patty's Day crafts
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.