The Real Benefits of a Wellness Approach to Health
Some personal thoughts on the My Healthy Lifestyle Program
By Dean Luther
Serving on the My Healthy Lifestyle Committee, as I knew it would, has proven to be an ongoing reminder to me of my personal challenges regarding health and wellness. In particular, I've struggled with my weight for quite a long time. This year, as I turned 50, I feel that the struggle has intensified. Fortunately, being part of the committee has helped me pay more attention to self-care and other positive approaches to a healthier lifestyle.
As a Riverside team member, however, I have the same kinds of questions as most other employees when it comes to the My Healthy Lifestyle Program and the requirements for health plan members to have a yearly wellness visit and health risk assessment (HRA) in order to obtain premium discounts. For example - Will Riverside Health System have access to my personal information and will that ever have any effect on my employment? Why must I take part in this wellness model in order to receive discounts? Why is Riverside Health System concerned about my health? Is it worth the time and energy to take advantage of the savings?
Being on the committee and gaining more knowledge about the program and its goals have helped me find the answers to those questions and I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to share what I've learned.
First and foremost there is absolutely no relationship between the program and employment status, initially or ever. All of the information relating to the wellness visit and the health risk assessment is gathered and processed by Health Advocate, a third party resource and the nation's leading healthcare advocacy and assistance company. Any information they pull together is completely confidential and collective in nature. In other words, their interest is only in our health and wellness as a total population, not as individuals - and never with any identification.
Regarding the financial incentive, I think the potential health plan-related cost savings of $600 a year is worth the effort, especially when you look at the "work" involved to secure the savings. The annual wellness visit and the HRA are good ideas under any circumstances so the ability to save money should be viewed as an extra motivator. But the $600 doesn't compare to what you can really save.
In years past, I have not had an annual wellness visit. My exam this year revealed a potential health risk that I was unaware of prior to seeing my PCP. Now, we can address that risk early, before it could become a more serious health problem. So while Riverside gains the benefit of a healthier employee and the people we serve get a healthier and more productive chaplain, my family and I get a healthier me. In that sense, any financial savings is a nice bonus, but not nearly as important as the payoff of better health and an improved quality of life.
My work on the My Healthy Lifestyle Committee has been instrumental in helping me understand the program and its advantages, including the financial incentive. But actually following through and taking action – going for my annual wellness visit and carrying out a health risk assessment – have been the real benefits, and the ones that I plan on making a priority for the future.
Editor's Note: The Reverend Luther is Director of Pastoral Care at Riverside Regional Medical Center.
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