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The Benefits Chef: New Year's Resolution

Every January, we resolve to eat healthy, exercise more, and take better care of ourselves. We approach the new year with the best of intentions but are easily derailed by a week of -51 C with the wind chill, some Netflix, and a comforting pot of mac & cheese. Making lifestyle changes is hard! If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Many insurance providers offer health and wellness sites that have great tools and information available to plan members. As a plan sponsor, we’ve done contest promotions in the past to try and engage plan members in our insurers health and wellness site. Typically, we would have 1,000 to 2,000 participants (out of a group of 44,000).

Last year, we wanted to do something different to promote wellness. We knew it had to be easy both to participate and to administer. And we knew we wanted it to be impactful on areas where we have high utilization. The top 3 categories of prescription drug spend under our extended health care plan are diabetes, cardiac disease/blood pressure, and depression. Not too different from a lot of plans out there. Medical research tells us that these disease states can all be improved or eliminated through lifestyle changes.

In June 2019, we launched our Path to Health wellness contest to encourage people to make simple daily changes like going for a 30 minute walk, eating a salad, or getting a good night’s sleep. All our plan members had to do to enter the contest is one of those things every day for a week. For every week you made one lifestyle change you got another entry into the contest. Our idea was that if we could help plan members make a lifestyle change through the contest then maybe a new healthy habit would form! The contest ran for 3 months through June, July and August. Over the course of the contest we had more than 8,000 entries! Plan members loved the opportunity to arrange walking groups at work or to share salad recipes. We supported the contest with wellness tips and recipes via twitter. In addition we gave away some awesome prizes like Fitbits, Vitamix blenders, and fitness equipment. What we don’t know yet is if it actually had an impact on prescription drug spend in our top 3 categories… I can’t wait to share the answer with you at renewal time!

Think about ways you can engage your plan members in making lifestyle changes to promote personal health and wellness. My advice is keep it simple and focused.

A little salad humor to close out this week… Before every barbecue I tell myself I'll eat healthy and stick to the salads. But then my plan takes a turn for the wurst.

Wishing all your resolutions come true (with just a little mac & cheese on the side), 


Alana Shearer-Kleefeld is Director of Employee Benefits at 3sHealth and Volunteer Content Creator for CPBI Saskatchewan.

CLICK HERE to learn more about CPBI Saskatchewan!

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