Michigan Firms Gets Health Coverage Break for Worker Lifestyle Changes

July 10, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Michigan employers who reward employees for living healthier lifestyles can save an average of 10% on their health care bill under a new Blue Care Network of Michigan program.

A news release said that the Healthy Blue Living program kicks off October 1 and rewards those employees being healthier in their lifestyle with lower co-payments and deductibles.Employers will be required to offer a smoke-free work environment in order to purchase the product. They also will be strongly encouraged to promote physical activity at work and to offer healthy food choices in vending machines and cafeterias.

“Healthy Blue Living meets a marketplace demand for a product that conforms to the proposition that if you take better care of your health, you will pay less in health care coverage,” said Kevin Seitz, BCN president and CEO, in the news release. “Blue Care Network and its employer groups and affiliated physicians will partner together with members to optimize health outcomes and reduce health care costs.”

According to the announcement, there are two benefit levels: standard and enhanced. All employees initially receive the enhanced benefit package.

To qualify to stay in the enhanced package, which offers lower co-payments and deductibles, the employee and his or her spouse must do the following during the first 90 days of coverage:

  • commit to healthy lifestyles.
  • complete a BlueHealthConnection Health Risk Appraisal during the first 90 days of coverage.BlueHealthConnection is the Michigan Blues’ health management program. Employees can complete the appraisal online, which provides a comprehensive picture of a member’s current health and health risks, along with suggestions for minimizing those risks. Medical conditions or unhealthy behaviors do not automatically preclude a member from qualifying for the enhanced benefit level, provided the member commits to and actually follows the recommended care plan that will be closely monitored by his or her physician, the announcement said.
  • complete a member qualification form.

After completing the health risk appraisals, the employee and spouse each fill out a member qualification form with their respective primary care physician. They receive points for favorable results or behaviors in six categories:

  • alcohol use
  • blood pressure
  • blood sugar
  • cholesterol
  • smoking status
  • weight.

These six categories were selected because they are the leading causes of chronic illness and costs which can be controlled. A point total of 80 or more qualifies a person for the enhanced benefit level with the primary care physician given the task of working up an individualized care plan as necessary.