Showing Them the Money
One of the most daring incentive programs has been implemented at the Bank of Geneva in Geneva, Ind. Three years ago, bank management began exploring ways to keep levels of coverage affordable for the bank, while at the same time not having a deductible so high that employees couldn't afford it. "We looked at what it was costing us at that point," recalls Andrew Briggs, president. They estimated a 15 percent health-care cost increase each year, and realized that, in eight years, health- care premiums would equal the salaries that the bank was paying its employees.
By John Williams
In late 2003, the bank developed a program with its insurance carrier that would allow employees to receive reduced deductibles for making lifestyle-related changes in four areas: blood pressure, body-mass index, cholesterol and smoking.
The first step: Raise the deductible from $500 to $2,500. The second step: Allow employees to qualify for up to a $2,000 reduction in deductibles, thus bringing the deductible back to the original $500. That is, being able to qualify as being in the acceptable range in any one of the four areas resulted in a $500 reduction in deductibles. As such, employees who qualified in all four areas saw their deductible drop back to the original $500. As it turned out, most employees were able to qualify for two or three of the four. Some even qualified for all four. Those who didn't, continue to try.
"Employees are aware that a lot of employers are dropping health insurance coverage and that premiums are increasing significantly," explains Jeanne Aikens, HR director. "They realize the opportunity that our program offers to them, so they take advantage of it." The bank sweetened the pot in other ways. It reimburses employees up to $225 a year for health-club membership and offers a reimbursement of 50 percent of the purchase price of home exercise equipment.
"The program has worked well. Several people began to work on improving their health," says Briggs, who used the program to purchase some home exercise equipment of his own.
Tangible results: The bank just received its renewal for next year, and it is relatively unchanged. "That is unheard of these days," he reports.
August 1, 2005
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