In 2009, the State of Nebraska launched a new integrated plan for health among state employees and their families. Prior to 2009, premiums had been increasing annually due to overutilization of health care services, poor preventive adherence, lack of attention towards early detection and continual escalation of premium rates. In response to increasing costs of health care the State developed a new wellness strategy known as wellnessoptions.
State employees who qualify for the new health plan have lower premium costs, access to comprehensive preventive coverage and year-round wellness programs. In order to qualify, any employee or spouse needs to complete three steps on an annual basis: participants choose and enroll in their choice of a wellness program; participants complete a biometric screening option; and participants complete an online health assessment.
A range of wellness programs are offered to enrolled State of Nebraska employees and their spouses, which include:
- Walk This Way—a walking program where participants wear a pedometer and monitor their number of steps online;
- EMPOWERED Coaching: Lifestyle and Condition Management—participants work with a personal health coach to support healthy life changes related to physical activity, healthy eating, smoking cessation and stress management;
- NutriSum—an online weight management program;
- Cardio Log—an online tool allowing participants to track a variety of exercise workouts; and
- Biometric Screening—onsite and at home screenings are offered throughout the year.
Since the integration of Nebraska’s new health plan, there have been significant improvements in some high risk areas. An analysis of health assessments from 2010 to 2011 found the following improvements:
- 11.3 percent of those who were previously high risk for low levels of physical activity are now exercising more than two days per week.
- 7.7 percent who were previously high risk for low fruit and vegetable consumption are now eating more than three fruits and vegetables per day.
- Tobacco use among participants decreased from 9.3 percent to 7.8 percent.
- Those at high risk for depression decreased from 11.6 percent to 9.6 percent.
Along with health improvements, the State of Nebraska also saw a reduction of health care costs during the first two years of the program. When comparing wellness program participants’ health costs to non-wellness participants, the State saw a reduction of $4.2 million in reduced medical and pharmacy claims. The return on investment for the program in the first two years found that for every $1.00 invested in wellness programs, $2.70 is returned in health care savings.
Access a PDF of the example here.