In the growing trend for more wellness options, the North Carolina Blues group has started a new program that may well be emulated in other parts of the country. Traditionally, the Blues use one state to test out concepts, which gradually move to other states. This new offering is specifically targeted at smaller companies and bodes well for the future.
Your Health Profile, BCBSNC's confidential health risk assessment (HRA), helps employers quantify the health risks that exist in their employee population. Using an aggregate summary report that comes from the HRA, employers can design and promote programs that target the specific needs of their workers such as managing diabetes or increasing physical activity.
"Employers tell us they want more information to help them take specific, measurable actions toward containing rising medical costs," said Bob Greczyn, BCBSNC president and CEO. "Your Health Profile can be one of the first and most important steps to creating a healthy workforce. A healthy workforce not only affects direct health costs such as medical claims, it also cuts down on the indirect costs of absenteeism and disability."
BCBSNC is offering Your Health Profile through an agreement with Summex Corp., a unit of WebMD Health Corp. that provides comprehensive health and wellness programs to employers. The HRA becomes available to BCBSNC employer groups in early June.
Your Health Profile helps individuals who fill out the HRA to better understand their own health risks. The profile consists of an online or paper questionnaire designed by Summex and administered by BCBSNC. Questions involve such health behaviors as physical activity, eating habits and tobacco use, as well as self-reporting of height, weight and medical history. The questionnaire takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Upon completion of the confidential questionnaire, BCBSNC members receive personalized assessments of their health status, complete with tips on developing an action plan for maintaining and improving their health. Individuals are encouraged to share their report with their physician.
Individuals whose reports show risks for certain health conditions and who indicate a willingness to improve their health will be enrolled in BCBSNC's Member Health Partnerships. The program offers customized support and education to members with one or more health conditions such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, asthma or unhealthy weight. Also, members taking the HRA may access BCBSNC's Online Healthy Living program for help with such lifestyle issues as weight loss and stress reduction. These tie-ins with existing BCBSNC programs enhance Your Health Profile, extending its reach beyond information and giving members the support they need to maintain and improve their health.
Cook Endoscopy in Winston-Salem offered Your Health Profile to employees in January as part of a pilot program. "The HRA is a big part of our plans to promote workplace wellness," said Maryann Atkins, Human Resources Benefits Specialist at the maker of medical devices. "It's giving us some insight into the health issues our workforce is facing that we couldn't have gained through any other means."
Employers with 50 or more employees completing the survey receive an aggregate summary report that includes suggested steps for addressing health issues within their employee population. The employer does not receive individual questionnaire results.
Employer groups with coverage from BCBSNC, including self-funded employers who pay a fee to BCBSNC to administer their health plan, may use Your Health Profile. Workers at those employers who have chosen a BCBSNC plan will be given the opportunity to take the HRA. BCBSNC is offering Your Health Profile at no additional charge to employers and individuals when the survey is taken online.
Customers of BCBSNC's Blue Advantage individual coverage also may take the HRA and receive a confidential health report. Blue Advantage customers should visit www.bcbsnc.com and click on "Member" to log into My Member Services, where Your Health Profile is available.
To visit BCBSNC online, go to http://www.bcbsnc.com