Central Michigan University’s wellness program awarded almost $50,000 in cash awards to employees registered in the program.
The gainsharing program gave $188 in health insurance overage dollars to 249 registered employees, totaling at $46,812.
Participants must complete four components of CMU’s Cash in on Wellness program, intended to increase employee health and cut health insurance costs. To be eligible, employees must also be registered with CMU’s Blue Cross Blue Shield health plan.
“What we are really looking at is our health care,” said Director of Wellness and Benefits Jacqueline Pridgeon. “We hope to offer great benefits, but increase employee health, to help employees understand their own health risks and maintain or improve.”
CMU’s wellness program, For the Health of It!, was established in 1999 in response to several large employee insurance claims that year. Pridgeon said the main challenge is to build employee involvement.
“It is a collaborative effort with employees,” Pridgeon said. “We’re all in this together. Most of our employees enroll in benefits. We look at what kinds of things we can do to address their concerns.”
The For the Health of It! campaign is organized into two components, Pridgeon said. Including public events, such as weight loss and stress management seminars, along with the incentive program, Pridgeon hopes to bolster health awareness among employees at CMU.
“We’re always challenged with promoting and engaging employees,” she said. “We’d always like to see participation expand, to increase the culture of health at CMU.”
To participate in gainsharing, employees must complete a Health Risks Assessment questionnaire online and enter into an exercise program that tracks their activity.
They must also complete an annual physical exam and participate in at least four different educational programs or wellness screenings.
“Know that CMU supports you in your efforts,” Pridgeon said to CMU employees. “We’re here to meet you wherever you want to start.”
Tammy Griffin, who serves as the manager of employee health and wellness, didn’t like where CMU’s was in the 1990s before For the Health of It! was implemented. She said that since Cash in on Wellness began, the program has seen record numbers of applicants.
“Health care claims were hemorrhaging,” Griffin said. “We knew wellness was the thing to do. It was, at first, only administered in house, to not a lot of success. We decided to revamp the program.”
Griffin said the increase in participation for CMU’s wellness programs is largely the result of the increased incentives and gainsharing, which started in 2007. She said the most applicants the program would see each year during its first five totaled at about 165.
This year, Griffin said 726 employees are enrolled.
“We’ve seen a number of increases,” she said. “Annual physicals have gone up every year. We’re the only ones doing gainsharing. Any employer benefits from keeping employees healthy. With age, our health changes. It’s a no-brainer.”