Providing Voluntary Wellness to your Workforce

Providing Voluntary Wellness to your Workforce

Scott Leavitt

Nov 12, 2009

Providing Voluntary Wellness to your Workforce

Last year, Americans spent a staggering $2.4 trillion on health care, accounting for more than 16% of our gross domestic product (GDP). As if that’s not bad enough, more than 50% of that expense was for illnesses related to lifestyle choices. Our population is less active and eats more than the people of any other industrialized nation. We smoke and abuse alcohol and take poor care of our bodies.  Studies show that more than 65% of our country is overweight or obese, and that those conditions lead directly to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

From 1978 to 2000, the number of obese Americans has doubled, accounting for 62% of the rise in health care spending.  Only 33% of adults exercise three or more times a week.  Over 33% of adults have high blood pressure and 50% of us have elevated cholesterol readings.  There are still 22% of Americans who smoke adding $157 billion in health care spending.  We as a nation are very unhealthy and we need to change our health by understanding what we are doing and not doing to ourselves.

We as Americans have the luxury of being able to use many of today’s conveniences.   As we leave our homes each morning we first use the garage door opener to open the door instead of having to manually open it.  We then head to our place of work and park in the closest open parking space to the front door so we don’t have to walk too far.  Once in the building we may take the elevator as a convenience instead of walking up a flight of stairs to only sit at our desk for the day.   We need to make smarter choices of being more active and taking the time to exercise to help our health. 

We also don’t eat as healthy as we should.  Many of us consume larger portions than is recommended or eat at the many fast food places that are on almost every other corner.  Most of us don’t realize what we are eating and that what we eat has a major effect on our overall health.  Poor eating habits are leading to high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.  We need to be more aware of what we are eating, how much we are eating and how often we are eating.

Americans today are now more willing than ever before to make positive changes to improve their own heath.  The issue is that most Americans don’t know how to improve their health or where to go to get information to help them.  One may say that a person can easily go to the internet or book store to obtain information to eat better or exercise but does that information pertain to that person.  People need to be able to have a program that will help guide them through their own situation, challenges and ultimately achieve their goals of becoming healthier.

With the current healthcare debate in Washington the one thing both parties seem to agree upon is promoting wellness and helping get America healthier.  Wellness programs have shown that not only can health care costs be reduced by over 50% but that Americans are happier & more productive at work.  Employers have been able to see a reduction in the amount of sick days and short term disability which in return saves them money.   

What is a wellness program?  A Wellness program can be defined as a health promotion program in the worksite that is intended to assist employees and their family members in making voluntary behavior changes that reduce their health risks, improve their health and enhance their individual productivity and well-being.   The key word here is behavior changes.  Anyone can eat healthier for a week, join a gym for a month or even quit doing anything for the short term.  To really become healthier for the long term we need to learn to change our behaviors and need to make a choice to assume responsibility of our health.

There have been a number of articles written that state that it takes 21 days, 30 days, 60 days or even longer to change your behavior.  Every person is different and it takes each person a different period of time to change their behavior.  In order for any person to change their behavior they need to have a goal in mind and they need to have a program that will assist them for the long term.  It has taken each of us our whole lives to become the person we are and the habits we have.  We will not be able to undo any had habits overnight. 

Wellness programs can take many looks and feels.   Here is a listing of some of the most common wellness programs:

  • Annual health risk assessments to make employees aware of their health, conduct interventions and evaluate program effectiveness
  • Telephonic or face-to-face lifestyle coaching for those with risks
  • EAP- Employee Assistance Programs
  • Onsite Fitness Centers
  • Healthy Food Choices (Cafeteria)
  • Bio-metric Screening
  • Online health & wellness tools
  • Gym Memberships
  • Walking Programs
  • Fitness programs
  • Nutrition programs
  • Stress management programs
  • Smoking Cessation programs
  • Lunch & Learn programs
  • Team Challenge programs

Most wellness programs are provided and paid for by the employer for their full time employees.  With today’s economy more and more employers are cutting back on benefits and even hiring more part time employees.  With the high need for wellness programs to improve the morale, health and productivity of an employer’s workforce, we need to be able to offer programs to all employees. 

A voluntary wellness program allows an employer to still offer a program to an employee to help improve their health without having to pay any of the costs of the program.  Since the program is being offered by the employer the employee will still have access to many of the same types of wellness programs that are available to other employees.  This allows those employees who work part time, work seasonal or work for employers who are unable to budget for wellness to still be able to improve their health.  The employer still benefits by offering a voluntary wellness program by having healthier, more productive and happier employees. 

Whether wellness is offered on an employer paid basis or on a voluntary basis the workplace needs to help create the “Culture of Wellness”.   This means that the workplace needs to help promote wellness programs to their employees by making them available and making them visible.   We all need to do a better job in focusing on living a healthier lifestyle and taking action to do so.

Scott Leavitt
President & CEO of My Wellchoice+
With 17 years of experience in insurance and wellness, Scott brings strong leadership and a proven track record to the role of CEO of My Wellchoice+. Following two years with the MONY Group, he started his own insurance company, Scott Leavitt Insurance & Financial Services out of Boise, Idaho. Scott is also the co-founder of My Wellchoice+.  Scott has been quoted widely on health care, insurance and wellness, including The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, INC Magazine, Fox Business, Benefit Selling, Employee Benefit Advisor, Health Plan Weekly and on National Public Radio.   Scott was the 2008-2009 President of NAHU and also serves on the NAHU Education Foundation.
Scott entered into the insurance industry in 1992 as a captive agent with the MONY Group. Two years later he started his own insurance office called Scott Leavitt Insurance & Financial Services.  He is also a founding Partner of My Wellchoice+, a wellness promotion company.  Scott and his wife, Amy, reside in Boise, Idaho with their 4 children Julia, Preston, Alyssa & Jordan.

Scott currently serves as the Immediate Past President of NAHU.    He is a former Region 7 RVP, serves on the NAHU Education Foundation BOT.  He also chairs the Nominations Committee & the Personnel Committee.  Scott serves on the Idaho DOI CE committee and licensing committee.  In 2004-2009 he was awarded the “Triple Crown award”& in 2003 the NAHU Distinguished Service Award.  Scott is a life member of LPRT & contributes to HUPAC as a Capital Club member.

While NAHU Region 6 membership chair he guided the region to the NAHU Cup, most new members & highest retention in 2000-2001.  

He was President of the Idaho AHU in 1999-2000, was awarded the Landmark award & the NAHU State Legislative Achievement Award.  In 2000 the Idaho AHU awarded Scott with the “Dave Isern Lifetime Achievement Award.”  Scott has written articles opposing national health care and supporting the message of NAHU in all forms of media.  He has also been quoted in; The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, INC. Magazine,  Kiplingers Business, MSN, Fox Business, Money Magazine, Benefit Selling, Health Plan Weekly, Employee Benefit Advisor, The National Underwriter and appeared on National Radio.

Scott has also served on several boards and in leadership positions within the insurance industry.  He has been awarded several industry awards including the Boise NAIFA “Ed Glennon Award of Excellence for Lifetime Achievement” -2005.

My Wellchoice+ brings effective and affordable wellness programs to small and large businesses to reduce costs for employers and foster healthy behaviors for employees. These programs are designed to engage employees and their families in active fitness, healthy eating and behavior management that lead to meaningful change and real results.

Each of the My Wellchoice+ wellness programs is built around a philosophy of plan, coach and reward to reach optimal effectiveness. A personalized plan bestows confidence that your goals can be achieved; an easy to access coach provides motivation and clarity to your objectives; and rewards strengthen your resolve to stay committed and improve your own personal health.
It's our passion to provide every individual, family and organization the knowledge and tools to improve their personal and collective health and wellness.

My Wellchoice+ is headquartered in the active and health-conscious city of Eagle, Idaho.  For more information, visit us at www.mywellchoiceplus.com.