Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 6, 2013

Effingham City Council discusses employee health incentive program

Nicole Dominique
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — A health-conscious Effingham City Council discussed health plans for city employees Tuesday night that would begin on May 1.

Insurance Safety Coordinator Dan Bledsoe described an opportunity for the city to join the Employers Health Purchasing Corporation Coalition.

"We currently have our prescriptions benefits with Walgreen's Health Initiative," he said. "We have an opportunity to join (the coalition) through Heartland (Health Care)."

Committing to a three-year contract with the coalition will save the city a projected $18,000 a year.

The council also discussed the Virgin HealthMiles Wellness Program, a $21,240 investment that rewards participating employees for staying active, which in turn may lower medical expenses.

Employees are encouraged to reach certain levels of activity, tracked with a pedometer. Exercises that are not pedometer-friendly, like weightlifting, can be entered online to count for the point system.

Employees who participate in the program receive gift card rewards for reaching higher levels of fitness.

"I think it's something ... that could really help with Type 2 Diabetes and weight management," Bledsoe said. "There are lots of positives to the program."

Commissioners and City Administrator Jim Arndt agreed.

"This is a way where you can kind of inspire a lifestyle," he said. "It picks up your body movement, you can earn credits... It's a pretty interesting program."

Another perk of the program - the company is able to provide reports on employees' progress as a whole. While anonymous, the reports can still show the city how healthy participating full-time and retired employees and their spouses are becoming.

The council is scheduled to vote on the discussed health benefits at its next meeting.

Nicole Dominique can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 138, or at nicole.dominique@effinghamdailynews.com.