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Small Business Sees Big Return on Employee Health Coaching Program

Small Business Sees Big Return on Employee Health Coaching Program

March 20, 2013 by Julian

NPP Graphics, like many small employers, has faced ridiculous health insurance premium increases over the last several years. In 2011, when the renewal increase came in at 53%, NPP owner, Bill Ruch knew something had to change.

After consulting with their benefits broker, Mark Thornton, with First Merchants, NPP decided it was time to address the health of their employees and their families, along with the health care decisions the plan participants were making. Company owner and president, Bill Ruch comments, “Our people are our most important asset and differentiator. We had to do something to help them become healthier and smarter health care consumers for everyone’s benefit.”

Two aggressive changes were implemented in hopes of becoming a healthier workforce; a single high deductible health plan and a health coaching program with American Health Network. Communication and incentives were key components to drive engagement in the programs.

Early on employees engaged with the nurse health coach and health care advocate for help understanding their new benefit plan and to earn the incentive of dollars in their health savings account. By the end of the year, employees had a personal relationship with the health coach. Several employees were well on their way to making healthier lifestyle choices - eating fruits and vegetables, eliminating soda, exercising consistently, taking medication as directed and visiting their doctor for an annual physical.

Liz, the Dietician Health Coach with American Health Network, shared, “Employees never miss an appointment with me. They look forward to reporting their progress and learning new tips for staying on course. The real difference in our program is it’s not one program for all. Every person has a different health goal and we are here to help them achieve that and maintain it for life.”

Fast forward one year. The NPP health plan renewal was 5.2%, something the group had never seen before. Prior to sharing the good news, Ruch asked employees to complete a short survey about the health coaching program. While he believed the program was successful and the primary reason for the relief in medical trend, he wanted to see how employees felt. Over 97% of the employees reported that the onsite coach and health care advocate had changed their life for the better. Employees not only answered the survey they went out of their way to share personal stories with Ruch about how their health had changed as a result of working with the coach.

One employee told of how he had reestablished time for himself which led to getting adequate sleep and exercise. Another shared their poor eating habits prior to the coach, “daily drive thru” and has since traded in the cheeseburger for healthy brown bag options. Probably the most significant story was one of a diabetic employee who was disregarding his health completely by not taking medication, not eating well, exercising or getting the proper amount of rest. By helping this employee get back on track with meds and a healthy lifestyle, the costs avoided exceed $12,000.

Tracy Minor, Wellness Manager with American Health Network gives her take on the success with NPP, “It’s all about the human connection. Employees and spouses finally have a resource to help navigate them through this complicated health care system and someone to help them make better decisions for themselves in a very personal way.”

When the question was asked of employees whether NPP should continue offering the health coaching program, the answer was a resounding “Yes!”

Ruch realizes another 5.2% health plan renewal may not be in the cards again this year, but stands confident knowing his employees have been forever changed by the health coaching program. The culture of NPP Graphics will never be the same and in this case that is a very good thing.

About American Health Network Employee Health Management

American Health Network’s employee health management division focuses on helping employers, employees and families proactively engage the health care system and maintain a level of compliance in managing conditions. The results are healthier people and controlled expenses.

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