Annual employee health assessments have become standard practice for some area employers, yielding benefits for both employees and employers.
Tim Diener, supervisor of quality management for Hillsboro-based Countryside Feed, said the manufacturer and distributor of animal feeds has participated in annual employee Health Risk Assessments for three years.
Countryside’s contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield specifies the assessments will be offered and the company will additionally offer at least two health-related projects during the year, Diener said.
“They also have a penalty for employees who don’t participate,” Diener said. “The penalty is passed on to the employee.”
Countryside contracts with Greenhaw Pharmacy to provide health assessments on site. An employee’s height, weight, body mass index, waist measurement, pulse rate, blood pressure, glucose level, hdl and ldl cholesterol levels, and body fat percentage are checked, and the employee gets a print-out of the results before they leave, Diener said. The results are not given to Countryside.
A requirement of the program is that the employees go to WebMD and participate in a health risk assessment program. WebMD assigns a health score and a comparative average of similar people.
Laura Legg coordinates the health assessment program for Cooperative Grain and Supply with locations in Marion, Canada, Lehigh, Hillsboro and Canton.
The co-op’s arrangement with Blue Cross is the same as Countryside’s, Legg said. Legg said the monthly penalty for co-op employees who don’t participate is $50, and it is deducted from their pay.
“Statistics have shown that employees who are healthy perform better and are more productive,” Legg said.
Company — and employee — health insurance rates go down if their overall health is better, Legg said.
The company gets notices from WebMD that a certain percentage of their employees are at risk of particular health problems, and that can help Legg in planning what wellness presentations to give at monthly employee meetings, she said. If, for example, the notice were that a certain percentage of employees were at risk of diabetes, she would plan a presentation related to diabetes.
Legg said wellness activities are often turned into a competition.
One wellness activity was to track employees’ fruit and vegetable intake for two weeks, and employees who participated got a prize.
“It made them aware of the benefits of fruit and vegetable intake,” Legg said.
Mary Beth Chambers, spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield, said the requirement to participate in health assessments or be penalized is a decision of the employer.
“It is up to an employer group, or in this case the agri-business association, to decide if they will provide the proverbial ‘carrot or stick’ as a means of encouraging employees to complete an HRA,” Chambers said.