The US Dept. of Health & Human Services released 3 new Affordable Care Act proposed regulations this week… including: 1) A proposed Rule regarding coverage requirements for pre-existing or chronic conditions; 2) A proposed Rule outlining policies and standards for coverage of essential health benefits; and 3) A proposed Rule implementing and expanding employment-based wellness programs to promote health and help control health care costs.
Posts Tagged ‘Worksite Wellness’
In September I blogged about how we and Maricopa County Public Health entered into a partnership with the Arizona Small Business Association and Viridian Health Management to train Arizona employers on the implementation of worksite wellness. I’m happy to share with you that the Healthy Arizona Worksites program has launched.
The purpose of the Healthy Arizona Worksites Program is to help AZ employers successfully implement evidence-based healthy worksite initiatives to improve the health of their employees and businesses- reducing health care costs & increasing productivity. The partnership provides tools, information, technical assistance, and resources to design, implement, and evaluate healthy worksite initiatives in Arizona businesses. This program also connects employers with others in the community that are having success with their healthy worksite efforts.
Creating healthy workplaces is a Winnable Battle in Arizona, especially when those programs reduce the impact of tobacco and obesity on Arizona’s workforce. When you consider the fact that more than 60% of U.S. adults spend half of their waking hours at work, it seems natural to incorporate health promotion and disease prevention in this environment. In turn it also seemed like a natural partnership to work with the Arizona Small Business Association and its more than 11,500 members.
If you know of a business that might be interested in participating or have questions, check out the brand new Healthy Arizona Worksites website or contact Jason Sealy, Healthy Arizona Worksites Program Manager at 602-306-4000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes cause 70% of deaths in the US these days… absorbing 75% of the $2.5T spent on annual medical care costs. When it comes to employee healthcare expenses- the indirect costs of poor health like absenteeism, disability, and reduced work output can be several times higher than direct medical costs. In fact, productivity losses from health problems cost employers $1,685 per employee per year!
One of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act includes incentives for employers to implement worksite wellness programs to help them keep their workforce healthier. When done well (using evidence-based and best practices) worksite health programs have a 3:1 payoff. Like the odds?
The Affordable Care Act contains some elements that will make worksite wellness programs more common and robust over the next couple of years. There are basically 2 kinds of worksite wellness programs. I’ll call them Wellness and Wellness Lite. A “Wellness Lite” program doesn’t require a participant to meet any standard related to health status to receive a reward. For example… a wellness program could include a gym membership or tobacco cessation program but doesn’t require participants to actually lose weight or quit smoking.
A Wellness program requires people to meet a health status standard to get a reward. For example- an employer could ask employees to certify that they haven’t smoked during the previous year. Enrollees who don’t could be assessed an annual surcharge of 20% of cost of the employee’s health insurance coverage. Rewards may be in the form of premium discounts or rebates, lower cost-sharing requirements, waiving a surcharge, etc. Under the Affordable Care Act, wellness program rewards can be as high as 30% of the cost of the employee health plan- potentially going to 50% in the future.
Our AZ Healthy Worksites web page provides businesses with information and tools to help them develop and implement an effective worksite wellness program. For example, the Program Design page lists the eight steps for developing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive worksite program. We’ve also contracted with the Arizona Small Business Association & Viridian Health Management to develop a new toolkit for AZ businesses. Viridian and the Arizona Small Business Association will teach businesses how to do effective wellness programs, understand their own particular issues/data, and develop effective strategies. In all, our contract tasks the team to train 500 AZ employers. Finally- the CDC is jumping into the fray with a variety of resources, which you can see at their worksite wellness hub website.
Our Public Health Prevention folks launched an exciting new initiative to improve health outcomes for Arizonans this month called the Arizona Population Health Policy Initiative. This new partnership (with Arizona’s local county health departments) is focused on achieving targeted improvements in health outcomes for Arizonans by advancing evidence-based strategies which address community design, school health, worksite wellness, clinical care, and accessibility to nutritious food.
The Initiative is similar to CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work and Community Transformation Grants- and the program is funded with federal Title V and state tobacco tax & lottery prevention funds. The idea came out of our strategic planning process, with the goal of working on several of our strategic planning elements and Winnable Battles by increasing the capacity of our county partners.
We’re excited to partner with Arizona’s county health and community partners as we move forward with this Winnable Battle from the ADHS Strategic Plan. For more info on the Initiative you can visit the Chronic Disease blog at http://chronicdiseaseaz.wordpress.com.
Our prevention and county health folks will be spending more time working to help counties, schools, and communities to adopt policies that will reduce obesity, chronic disease and disparities. One area of focus will be Border Health where the objectives include reducing motor vehicle accidents and substance abuse. There will also be more going on around employee worksite wellness.
A few months ago our tobacco & chronic disease prevention team was awarded a CDC grant to increase coordination and collaboration on evidence-based interventions addressing the leading causes of chronic diseases in Arizona (heart disease, cancer, pulmonary disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis). The Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion grant will look for ways we can leverage community partners to improve the health of all Arizonans through health policy, school-based initiatives, community health impact assessments, increased preventive health screenings, chronic disease self-management and worksite wellness.
From now through December 12th our team will be meeting with stakeholders throughout Arizona in a series of partner meetings to gather input on the development of a chronic disease strategic plan surrounding these issues and interventions. Hundreds of community partners have been invited to participate in sessions taking place in Yuma, Tucson, Flagstaff and Phoenix. Simply visit our Chronic Disease Blog for details.
Last year we received funding from CDC to implement the Communities Putting Prevention to Work, which aims to achieve broad reaching, highly impactful, and sustainable change to reduce chronic disease burden associated with obesity and tobacco.
This week CDC notified us that Arizona is a “high performing” state. What does this mean? CDC will soon be visiting Arizona providing additional evaluation support to determine whether or not our program will be used as a “best practice” example for other states. Why did Arizona receive this award? In just 15 months, our team has leveraged our grant resources to improve physical activity and nutrition and cut tobacco use in Arizona schools, hospitals, worksites, and childcare facilities. Here are few examples of what the team has accomplished so far:
- Trained over 20 hospitals and 2000 nurses on maternity care practices that encourage mothers to breastfeed and keep breastfeeding.
- Helped create healthy schools where students can be physically active and have access to healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables.
- Trained more than 200 school staff and partners to assess their nutrition and physical activity programs and policies using the CDC’s School Health Index.
- Inspired over 500 parents, teachers, and administrators to create healthy change at their school with our new School Health Advisory Council Video.
- Helped schools examine barriers that keep students from walking and biking to school safely by completing our online assessment, the Active School Neighborhood Checklist.
Imagine how many more Arizonans our team will impact with 9 more months to go! Congrats to our Nutrition and Physical Activity and their CPPW team!
ADHS and ADOA will be working together over the next several months to get Arizona State Government to become the 1st government entity in the nation to meet the American Cancer Society’s CEO Cancer Gold Standard Program criteria. Our objective is to set the standard for excellence in the prevention, early detection, and effective management of cancer and improve the wellness of our workforce.
More than 50% of the AZ working population has two or more chronic conditions, increasing medical costs and absenteeism in the workforce. Research shows by making an investment in comprehensive worksite wellness and employee health, employer healthcare costs are significantly reduced. Every dollar invested in comprehensive employee wellness saves $4 in reduced health care costs and $5 in reduced absenteeism.
Our plan of action is to partner with ADOA on their Wellness Strategic Plan and convene a cross-functional taskforce that will develop ways to leverage existing resources to help the State save money as we help employees and their families lead healthier lives by focusing on: 1) Tobacco prevention & cessation; 2) Healthy nutrition and weight control; 3) Active Lifestyles; and 4) Risk-appropriate health screenings.
Health risks drive health costs, and we’ll be exploring ways to better connect state employees to meaningful, evidence-based programs focusing on the prevention, early detection, and successful management of chronic diseases. We’ve already partnered with ADOA to develop Diabetes Self-Management Training for state employees covered dependents (over 124,000 covered lives). By working closely with ADOA on this new initiative, we’ll become a model for worksite wellness in Arizona and play a major role in promoting evidence-based programs across a wide range of employers throughout Arizona.
You can help by encouraging other worksites to take the plunge with us. Here’s how they can get started. Visit our Healthy Worksites Website which provides information and tools to help businesses in Arizona have healthier worksites and healthier employees. The Program Design page lists the eight steps for developing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive worksite program. You can start with a Worksite Assessment which is a web-based tool to help you assess your current worksite environment and health-related policies and to identify and define actions that will make it easier for your employees to be healthy. Our Resource Guide is designed for all worksites to gain resources and program ideas to start or further worksite wellness initiatives. The guide focuses strategies to increase physical activity and encourage healthy eating among your workforce.