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Wellness plan cuts one employer's costs


Swiss Village Retirement Center in Berne, Ind., has seen its health care costs decline since implementing the BeniComp Advantage program in October 2004.

The plan, which offers credits totaling $2,000 to offset a $2,500 deductible for individuals, or $4,000 to offset a $5,000 deductible for families, replaced a standard preferred provider network plan with a $500 deductible, according to Daryl Martin, Swiss Village's executive director.

Because the bulk of overhead goes to wages and benefits, Mr. Martin used that cost as a gauge to determine savings from BeniComp Advantage. He said he reviewed the cost of benefits over 10 years and found that they had climbed from 3% of payroll to 11.5%. But, after the wellness incentive program was implemented, costs dropped to 9.1% of payroll in 2005, then increased fractionally to 9.2% in 2006 and fell to 7.5% this year, he said.

Currently, 73% of Swiss Village's 120 plan participants are eligible for three or more credits.

"We were looking for something to encourage our employees to take wellness seriously," Mr. Martin said. At the same time, "employees really appreciated the fact that they could earn credit for their own responsible behaviors."