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Cleveland Clinic uses wellness to cut cost

Feb. 15, 2012 at 9:33 PM   |   Comments

CLEVELAND, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Employees at Ohio's second-largest private employer can whittle away a 21 percent health insurance premium hike or even earn a cut by improving their health.

Dr. Paul Terpeluk, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic's Employee Health Services, said since 2010, more than half of the 29,000 employees who are members of the employee health plan -- 16,000 -- enrolled in the health system's Healthy Choice program and the clinic hopes to motivate the other 13,000 to do the same, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports.

Those who sign up for the program agree to see a doctor, who determines if they are at a healthy weight; if they have one or more chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol or high blood pressure; or if they are a smoker. If one or more chronic health conditions are diagnosed, the patient and the doctor set individualized goals.

If the employee is found to have a healthy weight and has no negative health conditions, to avoid the 21 percent insurance premium increase they must participate in Healthy Choice and join a clinic fitness center or the clinic's "Shape Up and Go" walking program.

Those who last year participated in Healthy Choice and met their goals get a 4 percent decrease over what they paid in 2011. Those who made progress but did not achieve goals pay a 9 percent increase, while those who chose not to participate pay the full 21 percent increase.

The wellness program reduces costs for both the employer and the employee, but some employees complained they resent the "big-brother" approach to health and their loss of freedom and liberty to make their own choices concerning smoking, eating and exercise, the newspaper said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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