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Financial incentives drive wellness

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When employers move to high-deductible consumer-driven health care plans, one risk is that employees — because they are footing more of the cost — will delay preventive services that could spot medical problems early, before they develop into conditions that are far more expensive to treat.

A Crawford & Co. wellness program is designed to reduce the likelihood of that scenario from happening by giving employees financial incentives to have medical tests and screenings.

“I believe that the wellness program is a critical piece of our benefits program design. Now that employees have more out-of-pocket expenses under our medical programs, I believe we must provide them with programs, tools and resources to help them maintain or improve their health status,” said Bonnie C. Sawdey, Crawford's vice president of human resources in Atlanta.

Indeed, Crawford gives employees strong financial incentives — company contributions of up to $300 annually to their health savings accounts — for completing certain wellness-related activities:

• $150 for completion of a biometric health screening and completion of an online health assessment.

• $100 for having an annual physical.

• $50 for participation in one fitness challenge or two workshops.

In addition, employees' spouses can earn $150 annually for completing a biometric health screening and an online health assessment.

During the biometric screenings, which are conducted at Crawford's largest locations and at Quest Corp. labs at other locations, employees' cholesterol, glucose and BMI levels, weight and blood pressure are checked.

Employees are given the results, as well as an assessment on whether their numbers are low, medium or high risk. If an employee is at medium or high risk, a nurse will provide suggestions on what the employee can do to reduce the risk.

While 45% of Crawford employees participated in the wellness program last year, Ms. Sawdey said she is optimistic that the participation rate will increase this year as employee awareness increases.

In addition, 40 to 75 Crawford employees each month participate in its Weight Watchers program, the cost of which is 100% covered by the company.