• April 14, 2008

BCBSND launches new wellness program

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has launched a new wellness program that includes a web site dedicated exclusively to wellness. NDWellnessCenter.com provides resources and a free health risk assessment to all site visitors, regardless of whether they are BCBSND members. In addition, the site includes special programs for eligible BCBSND members.

"Preventable chronic illness makes up 70 percent of what we pay for health care. The more we focus on staying well, the better we can control the rising price of medical care," said Mike Carlson, corporate wellness director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. "As the health care provider managing claims for the majority of North Dakotans with insurance, we're well aware of the cost of not maintaining health."

NDWellnessCenter.com provides direct links to two new incentive-based wellness programs specifically for eligible members: MyHealthCenter and the Health Club Credit. Eligible members can qualify to receive up to a total incentive of up to $250 each year that can be earned for one or both programs. Other BCBSND wellness programs include Prenatal Plus and Tobacco Cessation and two employer group offerings, Member Education and the Employee Assistance Program.

MyHealthCenter is an online health tool that begins with the eligible member completing an online health assessment. After the initial assessment, eligible members can work with an online health coach to develop a custom plan to get fit, eat better, stop smoking or improve other risk factors. Other resources include the Healing Center with therapeutic suggestions from an alternative health library and an extensive healthy recipe center.

The Health Club Credit Program allows a monthly credit of up to $20 for eligible members 18 years of age and older who exercise 12 or more days in that month at a Health Club that is participating with the National Independent Health Club Association (NIHCA). A list of health facilities already partnering with NIHCA is available through a direct link to the association web site.

Statistics show people who increase and maintain their health save money, with even small changes making a big difference. For example, overweight people with a sustained 10 percent weight loss may reduce their lifetime medical costs by $2,200 to $5,300 per person.

The benefits to business are even more substantiated. In data distributed through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sick workers cost American businesses $15 billion annually in insurance premiums, while a 1 percent decrease in absenteeism can provide a 1 percent increase in profit. For every $1 spent on worksite wellness programs, businesses may realize $3 in reduced medical claims and absenteeism. A special section of NDWellnessCenter.com provides employers with information and resources to implement a worksite wellness program at their business.

"We'd like all North Dakotans to take control of their health and take the free health risk assessment," Carlson said. "If everyone concentrates on maintaining their current level of mental and physical health, not only will they—and their employers—save money, they will have more energy and feel better about themselves. That ultimately leads to a better quality of life."