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September 2008

State Employees’ Health Benefit Plans Adopt Health and Wellness Programs

The Alabama State Employees Insurance Board made national news recently by announcing that obese state employees will be required to either start getting fit or pay $25 per month toward their premiums starting in January 2011. Employees who smoke already pay an additional $24 per month. Alabama is joining 14 other states – according to a recent National Conference of State Legislators survey – that have added wellness programs and incentives to their state employees’ insurance plan.

In Alabama, state employees who do not get a free health assessment by January 2010 will be charged a monthly insurance premium. If the screenings uncover serious problems like high blood pressure or obesity, employees will need to take steps to improve their health. If they do not show progress at the follow-up screening, they will begin paying toward their premium in January 2011.

Some other examples of state wellness programs include:

  • State employees in Arkansas can earn up to three days of vacation per year by participating in their Health Lifestyle program;
  • Missouri has an incentive program for employees, who can save up to $25 per month if they take a personal health assessment and participate in a health improvement program;
  • Delaware, Montana and West Virginia have launched programs that offer screenings, health coaching, fitness and educational programs to help employees improve their health; and,
  • King County in Washington has a comprehensive health and wellness program that has saved the County an estimated $40 million between 2007 and 2009.