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wellness digest—week of may 23

May 31, 2011

in wellness digest

a roundup of last week’s news that caught my interest.

1. mercer expects move to defined contribution design for health care

mercer shares their post-health care reform projections in their may health & benefits perspective (downloaded from this release). one thing they expect to see is employers moving to a defined contribution health care design that involves pegging overall premium contributions to the lowest cost plan, a core plan. employees could buy up to richer benefits, but the employer’s contribution would remain steady.

“One potential path to optimizing the value of health benefits starts with offering a low-cost ‘core’ plan that is the benchmark for the employer’s cost sharing. The plan design value and required contributions could be set at minimum levels required by health reform to avoid the Shared Responsibility penalties. Employees could choose to buy up to more generous plans. To keep all plans affordable, we expect that employers will utilize targeted health management programs with incentives for healthy behaviors. Employers might also select more limited provider networks for one or more options and also make use of on-site facilities and patient-centered medical homes.”

2. name your own vacation

the idea of plotting one’s vacation allotment sounds grand in theory. in practice, would employees actually take (or get) the time they need to recharge? what do you think?

“Dominic Orr, president and CEO of Aruba Networks, a wireless-networking company, adopted what he termed a ‘no-vacation’ policy two years ago for all North American employees. Orr told New York Times columnist Adam Bryant that instead of giving each person a set number of weeks off each year, the standard approach to vacation planning, Orr requires them to take responsibility for scheduling their own paid vacation time any time they want–as long as they and their managers agree they are reaching their job objectives.

“‘Fundamentally, we’re saying that you of course should take time for vacation, as long as you make sure you also get your work done. Employees discuss it with their supervisors, and it has worked,’ Orr is quoted as saying. He claims the policy gives him ‘a more powerful workforce,’ because employees concentrate harder on their jobs when they are working.”

3. more employers are offering on-the-job health care

employers are broadening the purpose of on-site health clinics, using them as a gateway to more in-depth health conversations.

“Although some workplace clinics aim to function as their employees’ primary-care provider, most clinics supplement rather than replace their workers’ doctors. Some companies operate their own clinics, while others contract with others to do so. Services vary widely, from preventive screenings and nutrition and exercise counseling to routine physicals and disease-management services for workers with chronic conditions. Prices for clinic services are usually lower than those at a community-based clinic; sometimes they’re free.”

4. healthy food by the truckload

here, the robert wood johnson foundation chronicles a mobile truck that brings healthy foods—over 200 items!—to food deserts. some companies hire mobile health vans to provide on-site health services. a farm-to-worksite mogro truck makes sense too.

“If they bring it, will they buy?

“That’s the hope behind ‘MoGro,’ short for Mobile Grocery, which launched mobile truck delivery of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods by truck this week in Santo Domingo Pueblo, a Native American community in New Mexico. MoGro is the brain child of Richard Schneiders, now retired as CEO of Sysco, Inc., the giant food distribution firm.

“The truck uses temperature-controlled trucks to provide access to healthy, affordable food to communities that currently lack access due to physical location and cost.”

5. this is health

though it was written on may 16, i’m including this post in my digest. i assure you it’s with good cause. this series on the futurewell blog asks a provocative question: what is health? it’s a question i plan to ask my clients. i imagine how they answer will inform their approach to wellness.

“I’ve articulated before on this site our definition of health, but it’s obviously a complicated concept. So we’re starting a weekly theme on the site, ‘This is health.’ Here’s the first:

“Called ‘Favela Painting,’ this brightly colored village is the work of Dutch artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn. Working in a slum outside Rio, their goal is to use art ‘as a tool to inspire, create beauty, combat prejudice, and attract attention.’ The care and passion embodied by the murals effectively transforms the favela from outside in.

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Leave a Comment

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Todd Thompson November 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I offer a couple of opinions today – First I think everyone should get a week off per quarter, get away from the Job and refresh the spirit and mind! – Paid by the employer.
Second – every company with more than 10 employees should pay 100% of the healthcare premium of each employee
Would these costs put employers out of business or make them less competitive – most likely not – they might find that over time their employees were more loyal and vested in making the company a successful and positive place to work.
This of course is predicated on the ability of an employer to be able to fire anyone at will – no deadwood or detrimental employees need be keep on the payroll for any reason
Just my opinion as a small business employer

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