Albert Ertel is chief operating officer of Alliant Health Plans. The company is a licensed provider-sponsored health care corporation and a not-for-profit company whose aim is to improve health care for its policyholders.
Q. How can an insurance company help a business develop a wellness program?
Is the insurance company part of the solution? Is it a program that they’re including in their core benefit? Or is it an add-on that the company will need to pay for and do some things to set up? Because when you start talking about wellness, there are three components to wellness or a change in lifestyle: Stop, shut up and get moving. What I mean by that is stop smoking, shut up and stop eating the poor nutritional value foods, and get moving with regular exercise.
Q. Has that approach been successful in reaching businesses and employees?
Those are the same things your physician is going to tell you. There are so many people who are still looking for that magic pill. What’s going to be the wake-up call going for an individual? If somebody is trying to get health or life insurance they haven’t had in 10 years, the first thing you look for is what was the event in that person’s life that got them to make that call? They probably had a friend or a family member who just had a heart attack or a wake-up call, and it affected them deeply.
Q. How much money, time and effort should a business invest in a wellness program?
The initial rollout needs to have a splash, so you have ownership at all levels of the company. As far as the dollar amount, we looked at probably two dozen wellness vendors, and there were six- and eight-week programs that cost $100 per person, but after six or eight weeks, you didn’t see any results. So it needs to be a long-term and ongoing program. Should it cost a lot of money? No. The price point could be anywhere from $3 per member per month, up to $10. It’s going to be a function of what they want to do.