Human Resources News & Insights

Start a wellness program and get a $833K break in health premiums

Think it’s easy to get an $800K break on health premiums? Well, for one county in Florida, it kind of sounds like it was.

The lowest health insurance bid Marion County received for 2013 was from Florida Blue, previously Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida.

The problem? It was an increase of more than $1 million from its 2012 plan.

But after some negotiating, Marion County was able to get Florida Blue to agree to an increase of just over $167,244, reported the Ocala Star-Banner.

The reasons Florida Blue agreed to such a drastic reduction from the original
$1 million-plus bid:

  • The county had held its medical claims steady during the final two months of the contract negotiation
  • County officials agreed to implement an expansive wellness program to help prevent future claims, for which it has to hire a health and wellness coordinator, and
  • The county was able to show it had a track record of implementing successful health programs.

Some of the successes Marion County has experienced in the past:

  • One iteration of its smoking cessation classes helped 18 of its 25 participants become nonsmokers, and
  • During its own “Biggest Loser” competition, 180 workers dropped a total of 1,351 pounds.

The wellness campaign Marion County agreed to implement in the negotiations will encourage employees to take part in health assessments designed to catch things like heart disease and diabetes before they become serious problems. Employees will also be educated on how to live healthier and asked to participate in classes about preventive health measures.

It’s important to note, however, that under Florida Blue’s new plan, even though employees’ will be offered coverages similar to the 2012 plan, their out-of-pocket costs will increase — $3 to $8 a month in premiums, depending on the plan.

For more details, see the Ocala Star-Banner’s complete breakdown of the agreement: “County shapes up insurance,” by Bill Thompson, 5/31/12.

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