The value of preventive health initiatives proves hard to tally?jobs health

&x95;City of Kansas City, Mo.

&x95;Asking employees to fill out health-risk assessments is the most common incentive.

All told, that means employers &x97; whether by financial incentives or penalties &x97; are able to influence an increasingly smaller share of workers&x92; health habits and expenses.

To get ready, www.kcslimdown.com will become a live website on Monday to help participants learn about and monitor their own wellness program.

&x95;Lockton Companies

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send e-mail to stafford@kcstar.com. Source: Buck Consultants&x92; global wellness survey Source: SRA Benefits Source: University of Michigan Health Management Research Center study, published 2006

&x95;American Academy of Family Physicians

But wellness managers emphasize that dollars alone aren&x92;t the end-all to gain employee participation.

&x95;Children&x92;s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics

Don&x92;t yet know.

In corporate cafeterias where healthy food is subsidized, sources said some workplaces are throwing away more of the good stuff, uneaten because employees continue to choose chicken fingers, burgers and other fried foods.

And there lies the wellness challenge.

&x95;H&R Block

&x95;Hallmark Cards

Renya Spak, a health and benefits consultant at Mercer&x92;s Total Health Management business, said there&x92;s no industry-wide guarantee that if an employer invests in an on-site gym or sponsors walking challenges or stocks the company the cafeteria with healthy food that there will be immediate savings in lower employee health costs.

Among the Kansas City area&x92;s largest employers though, subsidized health coverage remains the norm for their full-time employees, whether the company is self-insured or not.

So in 2009, when Sprint really ramped up its program, its costs were higher than in 2008. &x93;But the people who were participants in our wellness programs in 2009 had decreasing health care costs in 2010, while those who didn&x92;t participate in our wellness program didn&x92;t have decreasing costs in 2010,&x94; Case said.

&x95;BlueScope Steel

Social connectivity can occur in many ways &x97; though team challenges to walk miles or lose weight, through corporate donations to charity if employee weight-loss goals are met, or if top corporate officers are out-front cheerleaders and participants in the programs.

&x95;MO-KAN Sheet Metal Workers&x92; Welre Fund

&x95;Employers spend anywhere from $10 to $3,000 a year per employee on incentives.

Even the best-laid wellness plans may still encounter some resistance. For instance, some employers trying to help control health care costs by improving the diet of their employees have found that it&x92;s tough going.

Spak, the Mercer consultant, said there&x92;s rarely anything harder than getting someone to change behavior &x97; unless there&x92;s a solid answer to the &x93;What&x92;s in it for me?&x94; question.

&x93;There always will be some people who have barriers and won&x92;t play along,&x94; Spak said. &x93;But if key managers support it, it&x92;s fun, and it&x92;s collective, most employees will support the idea that they&x92;re accountable for results.&x85; It all comes down to money and competitiveness.&x94;

What that means is that they&x92;re more closely tracking their health insurance and health-related programs, their employee incentives, and their costs to find out what works. They intend to pinpoint what strategies actually lower health care costs.

A study of employees at a Midwest utility separated them into participants and nonparticipants in their program&x92;s health risk appraisal. It then categorized them as low, medium or high risk based on the health ctors discovered in the appraisals. Finally, it quantified the value of their time lost from work for health reasons and their medical and pharmacy claims to determine an average cost for each group.

Researchers encourage employers to offer standing work stations, to redesign offices to encourage walking, to encourage ce-to-ce contact rather than email, and to subsidize gym memberships and public transportation use.

That&x92;s a victory, given that the trend has been annual increases of 7 to 9 percent across companies, he said.

Average cost by risk status

Hope.

The search for savings in the employee benefits neck of the woods is a high priority for any employer that continues to sponsor employee health insurance plans.

&x95;University of Kansas Hospital Authority

&x95;Among organizations that have no program, one-fourth say it&x92;s not an employer&x92;s role.

&x93;Unfortunately, most Kansas City area employers haven&x92;t established a strong enough economic base to work from,&x94; said Jim Clay, chief executive of SRA Benefits, a broker consultant that provides &x93;integrated wellness management&x94; advice to clients.

&x95;St. Luke&x92;s Health System

One perceived resistance that hasn&x92;t actually amounted to much was employee fear of &x93;big brother&x94; employers peering too deeply into personal health.

Sprint did all the expected cost-control things &x97; changes in its employee health plan designs and increasing deductibles &x97; as well as sponsoring smoking-cessation and exercise programs.

&x95;Cerner

&x95;Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City

&x93;We know there&x92;s incremental value. We want to know what it is,&x94; Case said.

That&x92;s because most programs have done a good job of helping employees understand that their health screening information &x97; often the kickoff part of the strategy &x97; is handled by a third-party vendor or separate company.

&x95;Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan

Over time, he believes, the corporate culture also has moved &x93;to the point where it&x92;s wellness for wellness&x92; sake&x94; rather than something the company pushes.

Paul Fronstin, researcher at the institute, said fewer employers are offering coverage, which means fewer workers have access to employer-sponsored plans. Also, overall workers&x92; wages haven&x92;t kept pace with rising health care premiums, which means that fewer workers are likely to enroll in health plans.

That&x92;s where the Kansas City Collaborative expects to make a difference.

&x95;J.E. Dunn Construction Group

For example, Sprint is aiming to put a dollar value on an employee who goes through a quit-smoking program and remains smoke free for six months. Some studies peg that kind of annual savings at $1,800 in lower medical costs and increased productivity, he said.

Add to that the evolution from full-time payroll jobs to self-employment, contract and temporary work, and even fewer workers have ties to employment-based health coverage.

Specific data have yet to come.

&x95;Kansas State Employee Health Benefit Plan

At Sprint, Case said, employees long ago understood that &x93;they have the same level of privacy they do with their private physicians&x94; and that their health information &x93;doesn&x92;t get back to their boss.&x94;

At American Century, an employee can take $120 off a single-coverage premium cost (or $240 off for spouse or mily coverage) for taking health risk assessments.

15% of the population drives 85 percent of the cost

&x93;We know if we can move people to a lower health risk category, we&x92;re going to save money,&x94; Clay said. &x93;The question is whether you can measure it.&x94;

Often, that amounts to one-fourth of the employee population, consultants say.

Increasingly, those who study wellness say the difference is &x93;social connectivity.&x94;

5% of the population drives 60 percent of the cost

The report says that about three-fourths of the U.S. adult population is overweight or obese, that medical costs associated with obesity are about $168.4 billion this year, and that the growing numbers of obese people are responsible for 12 percent of the growth in health care spending.

&x95;Among organizations with programs, two-thirds don&x92;t measure outcomes to justify costs.

&x93;We&x92;re beginning to see rethinking about financial incentives,&x94; said Spak. &x93;Many employers are spending a lot of money on incentives, with some costs approaching the cost of the intervention. That&x92;s bad. They need to know what intrinsically makes a difference to people.&x94;

&x93;I think we&x92;re a difference with employee health,&x94; says Phil Levy, human resource manager at the mily-owned company that distributes electrical and data-communication products. &x93;But we&x92;re soft on quantifiable measures yet for us to know the results.&x94;

The recession caused a record drop in employment-based health insurance for working-age Americans, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.

The slide in work-based coverage has continued since 2000. In 2009, the most recent year in the institute&x92;s study, 52 percent of workers received health benefits through their jobs.

&x93;Trying to measure cost avoidance is hard,&x94; said Melissa Campbell, benefits and human resource operations manager at American Century, which has encouraged employee wellness since the early 1990s. &x93;It&x92;s not what we saved, it&x92;s what costs we didn&x92;t incur.&x94;

And, managers report, it&x92;s not easy to simply remove the less healthy items. Employees may complain so much that it becomes a morale issue, or they stop patronizing the company food service and go &x93;off campus&x94; for lunch.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Industries Group released its medical costs outlook on May 18, alerting companies to expect an 8.5 percent increase in their 2012 health care costs.

&x93;Some traditional wellness programs may not provide enough assistance to morbidly obese employees,&x94; Lockton&x92;s report said. &x93;In that case, companies can consider offering an &x91;optimal bariatric surgery benefit&x92;&8194;&x94; in their insurance plans.

&x93;This is very, very complicated stuff. It&x92;s hard to get to a number on savings from wellness programs, especially if (employers) are changing networks in an effort to find lower premium costs,&x94; Clay said.

Clay has been advising Western Extralite for several years. Since June 2007, he said, the company has lowered its per-employee claims costs by 7 percent.

In a business world focused on quantifiable returns on investment, it&x92;s still hard to convince many employers that employee wellness programs are worth the cost, especially when startup costs exceed measurable savings at the outset.

The company now is working with OptumHealth, its third-party wellness provider, to &x93;capture the impact of our interventions on a real-time basis,&x94; Case said.

At Cerner, workers can earn up to $700 in premium reductions for earning points for weight loss, getting a flu shot, exercising and completing lab work to measure their body mass index, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Those words pop up a lot when employers talk about employee benefits programs that include &x93;wellness&x94; initiatives.

&x93;It isn&x92;t just the goal to lower insurance claims and pharmacy costs but to better manage absences, to have fewer illnesses and injuries. In general, it&x92;s to get a more effective employee.&x94;

The prospect isn&x92;t r-fetched. A report published last week by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center said the sedentary nature of 80 percent of American jobs had contributed to an obesity epidemic. Up to one-third of U.S. adults are considered obese.

&x93;We&x92;re moving the mark,&x94; Roberts said about employee health. &x93;We&x92;ve been running the program since 2006. In the next couple of years we may be looking at savings.&x94;

Still, Spak said, there always are some employees who don&x92;t want the employer involved in their health in any way.

But it&x92;s also hoped they&x92;re doing something good for the company&x92;s bottom line by holding down health care costs.

Think.

That&x92;s why most employers who launch successful preventive programs have found they need to appeal to employees&x92; emotions as well as pocketbooks.

Cerner says it sees a return on investment in the ct that over the past four years, its average premium increase for health insurance has been about 3.5 percent, well below the national average. And it has raised its deductible only once in the past five years.

&x95;Sprint

Flirtations with health maintenance organizations, with changing insurers, with different &x93;consumer-driven&x94; insurance plans that put more employee skin in the game haven&x92;t done enough to produce the sought-after savings.

It also comes down to spending money to attack the biggest problems. A new report from Lockton hints where the focus will be next: Obesity.

The 3-year-old coalition of 17 of the area&x92;s largest employers has dived into &x93;evidence-based&x94; health care &x97; a discipline that intends to quantify the benefits of preventive efforts.

It&x92;s hard to measure something that hasn&x92;t happened.

&x93;There&x92;s a long time between intervention and results,&x94; Bruning acknowledged.

&x93;But over a three-year period,&x94; she said, &x93;we&x92;re comfortable talking about a return on investment of three to one.&x94;

Sprint put its toe in the wellness waters in 2005, and soon found that &x93;it&x92;s hard to make changes in the direction you&x92;re going when you&x92;re not getting timely information about your claims,&x94; said Collier Case, director of health and productivity.

Based on an internal study, Sprint found that employee participants in its program actually cost more in their first year of use. As in other companies, a first-year program generally incurs higher costs because it captures employees who hadn&x92;t been getting preventive care checkups before.

The knots of walkers stepping out from Western Extralite for a lunchtime stroll through Kansas City&x92;s West Bottoms are doing something healthy for themselves.

The value of preventive health initiatives proves hard to tally?jobs health,More corporate cafeterias are serving additional fruits and vegetables and lower-t entrees in an effort to help employees improve their diets.

&x95;American Century Investments

Since Cerner Corp. began an intense employee wellness initiative in October, 5,400 employees have lost a total of 20,000 pounds.

The company gets only aggregate information about, say, the medical expenses of its smokers, to help shape its strategy. It doesn&x92;t get specific information about individuals.

Most employers that have begun the programs &x97; offering financial carrots or sticks to encourage employees to exercise, eat healthier diets and do preventive health screening to catch problems before they become major &x97; agree on this:

Beginning July 11, Cerner will begin its &x93;KC Slimdown Challenge,&x94; sending a bus around to various companies and points in the metro area to urge others to begin an exercise and diet program.

At Sprint, a nonsmoker gets roughly $20 a pay period off his insurance premium share.

25% of the population has no claims costs &x97; which doesn&x92;t necessarily mean they&x92;re healthy. It could mean they&x92;re not getting cost-effective preventive care.

At Cerner Corp., home to one of the most comprehensive employee wellness programs in the nation, health information technology is their stock in trade. As much as any employer anywhere, &x93;We have the foundation to evaluate these health status measures,&x94; said Christa Roberts, a registered nurse who leads the company&x92;s health and wellness strategy.

&x95;Two-thirds of organizations have some kind of wellness strategy.

&x93;It&x92;s to use employers&x92; investments in health to get healthier employees &x85; to get more productivity and, over time, to reduce costs,&x94; said William Bruning, chief executive of the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care.

The knots of walkers stepping out from Western Extralite for a lunchtime stroll through Kansas City&x92;s West Bottoms are doing something healthy for themselves.</p><p>But it&x92;s also hoped they&x92;re doing something good for the company&x92;s bottom line by holding down health care costs.</p><p>&x93;I think we&x92;re a difference with employee health,&x94; says Phil Levy, human resource manager at the mily-owned company that distributes electrical and data-communication products. &x93;But we&x92;re soft on quantifiable measures yet for us to know the results.&x94;</p><p>Hope.</p><p>Think.</p><p>Don&x92;t yet know.</p><p>Those words pop up a lot when employers talk about employee benefits programs that include &x93;wellness&x94; initiatives.</p><p>Most employers that have begun the programs &x97; offering financial carrots or sticks to encourage employees to exercise, eat healthier diets and do preventive health screening to catch problems before they become major &x97; agree on this: </p><p>It&x92;s hard to measure something that hasn&x92;t happened.</p><p>&x93;Trying to measure cost avoidance is hard,&x94; said Melissa Campbell, benefits and human resource operations manager at American Century, which has encouraged employee wellness since the early 1990s. &x93;It&x92;s not what we saved, it&x92;s what costs we didn&x92;t incur.&x94; </p><p>And there lies the wellness challenge. </p><p>In a business world focused on quantifiable returns on investment, it&x92;s still hard to convince many employers that employee wellness programs are worth the cost, especially when startup costs exceed measurable savings at the outset.</p><p>At Cerner Corp., home to one of the most comprehensive employee wellness programs in the nation, health information technology is theijobs health servicer stock in trade. As much as any employer anywhere, &x93;We have the foundation to evaluate these health status measures,&x94; said Christa Roberts, a registered nurse who leads the company&x92;s health and wellness strategy.</p><p> The company has invested in an on-site health clinic, pharmacy, fitness center, in-house health screenings, health coaches, healthy cafeteria foods, weight loss and walking challenges.</p><p>Cerner says it sees a return on investment in the ct that over the past four years, its average premium increase for health insurance has been about 3.5 percent, well below the national average. And it has raised its deductible only once in the past five years.</p><p>&x93;We&x92;re moving the mark,&x94; Roberts said about employee health. &x93;We&x92;ve been running the program since 2006. In the next couple of years we may be looking at savings.&x94;</p><p>Renya Spak, a health and benefits consultant at Mercer&x92;s Total Health Management business, said there&x92;s no industry-wide guarantee that if an employer invests in an on-site gym or sponsors walking challenges or stocks the company the cafeteria with healthy food that there will be immediate savings in lower employee health costs.</p><p>&x93;But over a three-year period,&x94; she said, &x93;we&x92;re comfortable talking about a return on investment of three to one.&x94;</p><p><strong><span class="subhead">Looking to save</span></strong></p><p>The search for savings in the employee benefits neck of the woods is a high priority for any employer that continues to sponsor employee health insurance plans.</p><p>Flirtations with health maintenance organizations, with changing insurers, with different &x93;consumer-driven&x94; insurance plans that put more employee skin in the game haven&x92;t done enough to produce the sought-after savings.</p><p>&x93;Unfortunately, most Kansas City area employers haven&x92;t established a strong enough economic base to work from,&x94; said Jim Clay, chief executive of SRA Benefits, a broker consultant that provides &x93;integrated wellness management&x94; advice to clients.</p><p>&x93;This is very, very complicated stuff. It&x92;s hard to get to a number on savings from wellness programs, especially if (employers) are changing networks in an effort to find lower premium costs,&x94; Clay said.</p><p>Clay has been advising Western Extralite for several years. Since June 2007, he said, the company has lowered its per-employee claims costs by 7 percent.</p><p>That&x92;s a victory, given that the trend has been annual increases of 7 to 9 percent across companies, he said.</p><p>The PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Industries Group released its medical costs outlook on May 18, alerting companies to expect an 8.5 percent increase in their 2012 health care costs. </p><p>&x93;We know if we can move people to a lower health risk category, we&x92;re going to save money,&x94; Clay said. &x93;The question is whether you can measure it.&x94;</p><p>That&x92;s where the Kansas City Collaborative expects to make a difference.</p><p>The 3-year-old coalition of 17 of the area&x92;s largest employers has dived into &x93;evidence-based&x94; health care &x97; a discipline that intends to quantify the benefits of preventive efforts.</p><p>What that means is that they&x92;re more closely tracking their health insurance and health-related programs, their employee incentives, and their costs to find out what works. They intend to pinpoint what strategies actually lower health care costs.</p><p>&x93;It&x92;s to use employers&x92; investments in health to get healthier employees &x85; to get more productivity and, over time, to reduce costs,&x94; said William Bruning, chief executive of the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care.</p><p>&x93;It isn&x92;t just the goal to lower insurance claims and pharmacy costs but to better manage absences, to have fewer illnesses and injuries. In general, it&x92;s to get a more effective employee.&x94;</p><p>Specific data have yet to come.</p><p>&x93;There&x92;s a long time between intervention and results,&x94; Bruning acknowledged. </p><p><strong><span class="subhead">Fewer tied to work</span></strong></p><p>The recession caused a record drop in employment-based health insurance for working-age Americans, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute.</p><p>The slide in work-based coverage has continued since 2000. In 2009, the most recent year in the institute&x92;s study, 52 percent of workers received health benefits through their jobs.</p><p>Paul Fronstin, researcher at the institute, said fewer employers are offering coverage, which means fewer workers have access to employer-sponsored plans. Also, overall workers&x92; wages haven&x92;t kept pace with rising health care premiums, which means that fewer workers are likely to enroll in health plans.</p><p>Add to that the evolution from full-time payroll jobs to self-employment, contract and temporary work, and even fewer workers have ties to employment-based health coverage.</p><p>All told, that means employers &x97; whether by financial incentives or penalties &x97; are able to influence an increasingly smaller share of workers&x92; health habits and expenses.</p><p>Among the Kansas City area&x92;s largest employers though, subsidized health coverage remains the norm for their full-time employees, whether the company is self-insured or not.</p><p>Sprint put its toe in the wellness waters in 2005, and soon found that &x93;it&x92;s hard to make changes in the direction you&x92;re going when you&x92;re not getting timely information about your claims,&x94; said Collier Case, director of health and productivity.</p><p>Sprint did all the expected cost-control things &x97; changes in its employee health plan designs and increasing deductibles &x97; as well as sponsoring smoking-cessation and exercise programs.</p><p>The company now is working with OptumHealth, its third-party wellness provider, to &x93;capture the impact of our interventions on a real-time basis,&x94; Case said.</p><p>For example, Sprint is aiming to put a dollar value on an employee who goes through a quit-smoking program and remains smoke free for six months. Some studies peg that kind of annual savings at $1,800 in lower medical costs and increased productivity, he said.</p><p>&x93;We know there&x92;s incremental value. We want to know what it is,&x94; Case said.</p><p>Based on an internal study, Sprint found that employee participants in its program actually cost more in their first year of use. As in other companies, a first-year program generally incurs higher costs because it captures employees who hadn&x92;t been getting preventive care checkups before.</p><p>Often, that amounts to one-fourth of the employee population, consultants say.</p><p>So in 2009, when Sprint really ramped up its program, its costs were higher than in 2008. &x93;But the people who were participants in our wellness programs in 2009 had decreasing health care costs in 2010, while those who didn&x92;t participate in our wellness program didn&x92;t have decreasing costs in 2010,&x94; Case said. </p><p><strong><span class="subhead">Change? Who, me?</span></strong></p><p>Spak, the Mercer consultant, said there&x92;s rarely anything harder than getting someone to change behavior &x97; unless there&x92;s a solid answer to the &x93;What&x92;s in it for me?&x94; question.</p><p>That&x92;s why most employers who launch successful preventive programs have found they need to appeal to employees&x92; emotions as well as pocketbooks.</p><p>At American Century, an employee can take $120 off a single-coverage premium cost (or $240 off for spouse or mily coverage) for taking health risk assessments.</p><p>At Cerner, workers can earn up to $700 in premium reductions for earning points for weight loss, getting a flu shot, exercising and completing lab work to measure their body mass index, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.</p><p>At Sprint, a nonsmoker gets roughly $20 a pay period off his insurance premium share.</p><p>But wellness managers emphasize that dollars alone aren&x92;t the end-all to gain employee participation.</p><p>&x93;We&x92;re beginning to see rethinking about financial incentives,&x94; said Spak. &x93;Many employers are spending a lot of money on incentives, with some costs approaching the cost of the intervention. That&x92;s bad. They need to know what intrinsically makes a difference to people.&x94;</p><p>Increasingly, those who study wellness say the difference is &x93;social connectivity.&x94;</p><p>&x93;It&x92;s very effective to say that part of the deal for working here is that my employer wants me to be healthy, and if that happens, something good comes to me, to my company, and to my colleagues,&x94; Spak said.</p><p>Social connectivity can occur in many ways &x97; though team challenges to walk miles or lose weight, through corporate donations to charity if employee weight-loss goals are met, or if top corporate officers are out-front cheerleaders and participants in the programs.</p><p>Even the best-laid wellness plans may still encounter some resistance. For instance, some employers trying to help control health care costs by improving the diet of their employees have found that it&x92;s tough going.</p><p>In corporate cafeterias where healthy food is subsidized, sources said some workplaces are throwing away more of the good stuff, uneaten because employees continue to choose chicken fingers, burgers and other fried foods.</p><p>And, managers report, it&x92;s not easy to simply remove the less healthy items. Employees may complain so much that it becomes a morale issue, or they stop patronizing the company food service and go &x93;off campus&x94; for lunch.</p><p>One perceived resistance that hasn&x92;t actually amounted to much was employee fear of &x93;big brother&x94; employers peering too deeply into personal health.</p><p>That&x92;s because most programs have done a good job of helping employees understand that their health screening information &x97; often the kickoff part of the strategy &x97; is handled by a third-party vendor or separate company.</p><p>The company gets only aggregate information about, say, the medical expenses of its smokers, to help shape its strategy. It doesn&x92;t get specific information about individuals.</p><p>At Sprint, Case said, employees long ago understood that &x93;they have the same level of privacy they do with their private physicians&x94; and that their health information &x93;doesn&x92;t get back to their boss.&x94;</p><p>Over time, he believes, the corporate culture also has moved &x93;to the point where it&x92;s wellness for wellness&x92; sake&x94; rather than something thThe value of preventive health initiatives proves hard to tally?jobs healthe company pushes.</p><p>Still, Spak said, there always are some employees who don&x92;t want the employer involved in their health in any way. </p><p>&x93;There always will be some people who have barriers and won&x92;t play along,&x94; Spak said. &x93;But if key managers support it, it&x92;s fun, and it&x92;s collective, most employees will support the idea that they&x92;re accountable for results.&x85; It all comes down to money and competitiveness.&x94;</p><p>It also comes down to spending money to attack the biggest problems. A new report from Lockton hints where the focus will be next: Obesity.</p><p>The report says that about three-fourths of the U.S. adult population is overweight or obese, that medical costs associated with obesity are about $168.4 billion this year, and that the growing numbers of obese people are responsible for 12 percent of the growth in health care spending.</p><p>&x93;Some traditional wellness programs may not provide enough assistance to morbidly obese employees,&x94; Lockton&x92;s report said. &x93;In that case, companies can consider offering an &x91;optimal bariatric surgery benefit&x92;&8194;&x94; in their insurance plans. </p><p>The prospect isn&x92;t r-fetched. A report published last week by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center said the sedentary nature of 80 percent of American jobs had contributed to an obesity epidemic. Up to one-third of U.S. adults are considered obese.</p><p>Researchers encourage employers to offer standing work stations, to redesign offices to encourage walking, to encourage ce-to-ce contact rather than email, and to subsidize gym memberships and public transportation use.</p><p><strong><span class="infobox-head">Employers participating in the Kansas City Collaborative </span></strong><br /></p><p>&x95;American Academy of Family Physicians</p><p>&x95;American Century Investments</p><p>&x95;Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City</p><p>&x95;BlueScope Steel</p><p>&x95;Cerner </p><p>&x95;Children&x92;s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics</p><p>&x95;City of Kansas City, Mo.</p><p>&x95;H&R Block</p><p>&x95;Hallmark Cards</p><p>&x95;J.E. Dunn Construction Group</p><p>&x95;Kansas State Employee Health Benefit Plan</p><p>&x95;Lockton Companies</p><p>&x95;Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan</p><p>&x95;MO-KAN Sheet Metal Workers&x92; Welre Fund</p><p>&x95;St. Luke&x92;s Health System</p><p>&x95;Sprint</p><p>&x95;University of Kansas Hospital Authority</p><p><strong><span class="infobox-head">A national snapshot </span></strong><br /></p><p>&x95;Two-thirds of organizations have some kind of wellness strategy.</p><p>&x95;Employers spend anywhere from $10 to $3,000 a year per employee on incentives.</p><p>&x95;Asking employees to fill out health-risk assessments is the most common incentive.</p><p>&x95;Among organizations with programs, two-thirds don&x92;t measure outcomes to justify costs.</p><p>&x95;Among organizations that have no program, one-fourth say it&x92;s not an employer&x92;s role. </p><p><strong><span class="infobox-head">Where the health care dollars go </span></strong><br />15% of the population drives 85 percent of the cost</p><p>5% of the population drives 60 percent of the cost</p><p>25% of the population has no claims costs &x97; which doesn&x92;t necessarily mean they&x92;re healthy. It could mean they&x92;re not getting cost-effective preventive care.</p><p><strong><span class="infobox-head">Weighing the costs </span></strong><br />A study of employees at a Midwest utility separated them into participants and nonparticipants in their program&x92;s health risk appraisal. It then categorized them as low, medium or high risk based on the health ctors discovered in the appraisals. Finally, it quantified the value of their time lost from work for health reasons and their medical and pharmacy claims to determine an average cost for each group.</p><p>Average cost by risk status <span style="line-height:0"><br clear="all" /></span><table border="0" class="story-table"><tr class="story-table-even-row" valign="bottom"><td><strong>Health risk status</strong></td><td><strong>Percent of employees</strong></td><td><strong>Time away from work</strong></td><td><strong>Medical claims</strong></td><td><strong>Pharmacy claims</strong></td><td><strong>Total costs</strong></td></tr><tr class="story-table-odd-row"><td>Nonparticipant in risk assessment</td><td> 51.2</td><td>$3,088</td><td>$3,879</td><td>$ 546</td><td>$7,513</td></tr><tr class="story-table-even-row"><td>Risk assessment participant</td><td> 48.8</td><td> 2,424</td><td> 3,275</td><td> 532</td><td> 6,232</td></tr><tr class="story-table-odd-row"><td>Low risk</td><td> 31.4</td><td> 1,909</td><td> 2,433</td><td> 342</td><td> 4,685</td></tr><tr class="story-table-even-row"><td>Medium risk</td><td> 11.7</td><td> 3,099</td><td> 4,451</td><td> 757</td><td> 8,308</td></tr><tr class="story-table-odd-row"><td>High risk</td><td> 5.7</td><td> 3,877</td><td> 5,503</td><td> 1,119</td><td>10,500</td></tr></table></div><hr class="infobox-hr-separator" /><div class="infobox"><strong><span class="infobox-head">Cerner to take show on the road </span></strong><br />Since Cerner Corp. began an intense employee wellness initiative in October, 5,400 employees have lost a total of 20,000 pounds.</p><p>Beginning July 11, Cerner will begin its &x93;KC Slimdown Challenge,&x94; sending a bus around to various companies and points in the metro area to urge others to begin an exercise and diet program.</p><p>To get ready, <a href=" will become a live website on Monday to help participants learn about and monitor their own wellness program.

&x93;It&x92;s very effective to say that part of the deal for working here is that my employer wants me to be healthy, and if that happens, something good comes to me, to my company, and to my colleagues,&x94; Spak said.

The company has invested in an on-site health clinic, pharmacy, fitness center, in-house health screenings, health coaches, healthy cafeteria foods, weight loss and walking challenges.

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