The Added Benefit That Curbs Claims
OptiMed’s WorkPlace Wellness helps
members master ‘diet and exercise’
There is one proactive antidote for four of the five most costly chronic medical conditions. It’s a lifestyle habit lodged in-between cliché and iconic; so oft-recited it goes almost unnoticed: diet and exercise.
Diet and exercise is routinely, unrelentingly advised - and yet largely ignored.
Let's look at the facts.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that the five most costly chronic medical conditions are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis[i] with all but cancer responding well to to healthy eating and effective exercise. The occurence of certain cancers, however, seems also to be reduced through proper diet and exercise.
You’ve heard the call for healthy eating habits and effective, regular exercise. So too have your group administrators in their battle to keep health insurance rates low. The cost of group medical claims is generally reflected in renewal rates.
Here’s the scorecard on annual disease costs[ii]:
- Heart disease and stroke - $199 billion
- Diabetes - $327 billion
- Obesity - $147 billion
- Arthritis - $140 billion
It pays to be healthy or, said another way, it saves to keep medical claims low, no matter what type of coverage.
What’s At Stake
The merits of regular exercise that elevates heart rate and/or stresses muscle to the point of generating an adaptive response are well recognized. Benefits of nutrient-dense meals dominated by fruits, vegetables and lean protein are advocated by health authorities.
It’s almost in the face of information overload that more than 40 percent of Americans are obese, according to the latest CDC[iii] data. Approximately 9.2 percent aren’t just obese (body mass index above 30) but severely obese (BMI above 40).[iv] This is almost double the rate of those severely obese 20 years earlier.
While delineating obesity as a separate health condition, it’s clearly a key contributor to many other diseases.
“People who have obesity, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for more serious diseases and health conditions,” the CDC tells us[v], listing 13 conditions.
Tragically, even COVID-19 is more severe among the obese.[vi]
From Knowing To Doing
Three-fourths Americans eat too few fruits, vegetables, dairy and oils. Most exceed recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. That’s according to the dietary guidelines posted at health-dot-gov.[vii]
According to the latest available data from the CDC, less than a quarter of U.S. adults exercise enough.[viii]
Summation: we know what to do, but few of us are doing it. The reason?
There is something that stands between knowing and doing. That barrier is discipline!
Most people don’t exercise for the simple reason that it’s easier not to. Few hit the mark on nutritional guidance because too many foods loaded with sugar and saturated fat appeal to our taste buds.
Establish A Goal
Even though it’s a difficult task, there are ways to conquer unhealthy habits.
Start by establishing a reasonable overall goal with stair step goals along the way. The overall goal can be a body weight, a clothing size, a reduction in cholesterol, regulation of blood pressure, a drop in blood sugar levels, or whatever is important and motivating to you. Goals should be SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.[ix]
Enter WorkPlace Wellness
For guidance and accountability, OptiMed offers its WorkPlace Wellness program orchestrated through Kelly’s Choice nutritional company. This is a non-insurance benefit included with all OptiMed Health Plans.
This program provides plan members at no additional charge:
- Registration on Healthie, a HIPAA-compliant mobile app on which users can record a food journal, log exercise sessions and access inspirational and instructional videos and handouts
- Weekly review within the Healthie app of food intake and workouts by a registered dietician
- The availability of a registered dietitian via online chat 24/7
- Subscriptions to:
- Monthly newsletters and recipes
- Monthly Workplace Wellness video
- Biweekly Healthy Food Morsels Fun 2-Minute Food Video
- Discount pricing on a Kelly's Choice Diabetes Series that provides 31 videos and 13 handouts to improve blood sugar control and provide guidance in exercising safely for those suffering with either Type I or Type II diabetes or diagnosed as pre-diabetic (Email Kelly's Choicefor more details).
Group administrators can submit a spreadsheet of plan members’ names and email addresses for automatic enrollment in the program through the Healthie app. They can download a template for the spreadsheet and email it to Kelly’s Choice.
Members can enroll directly with their OptiMed Health Plan member ID number.
In recognition of National Diabetes Month,[x] the next installment of this blog will zero in on reversing diabetes, for which medical expenditures are 2.3 times higher[xi] than what costs would be without diabetes. Check back here in two weeks.
Making sure your groups are capitalizing of WorkPlace Wellness is almost like redeeming a coupon for lower health insurance premiums in the years ahead.