Amherst Chamber of CommerceAmherst Chamber of Commerce

Independent Health Promotes a Culture of Health in the Workplace

February 2013


Recently there has been media attention around the fact that health insurers will be permitted to charge individuals who smoke up to 50 percent higher premiums through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) beginning on Jan 1, 2014. Although this premium-rating practice is not permitted in New York State, it does bring up the larger issue of the real price people pay for unhealthy lifestyle choices.


Thomas Foels, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer at Independent Health, recently wrote an "Another Voice" column for The Buffalo News explaining the significant impact that smoking and other poor lifestyle choices have on health care costs. Dr. Foels explains that by creating a culture of health in Western New York (WNY), we will further improve the health and vitality of our community and nation, decrease rates of preventable illness and make health care more affordable.


Independent Health realizes that when it comes to creating a culture of health in the workplace, time and money are limited for small employers to invest in health and wellness initiatives. Promoting a healthy lifestyle among your workforce can lead to lower employee absenteeism, lower health care costs and improved employee lifestyle and morale. That is why Independent Health has developed a new health and wellness initiative specifically for small employers that allows employers to engage at a level of health and wellness that fits their needs. 


Employers can begin learning about their company's wellness status by completing an organizational wellness assessment with their sales account manager. The assessment will help employers understand and identify opportunities to enhance your employees' health, productivity and overall awareness of making decisions to drive a healthier workforce. Employers can also supplement the assessment with an employee health survey to see what health and wellness topics they are interested in.


Independent Health is dedicated to partnering with small employers to offer accessible health and wellness tools. Popular health and wellness topics for employers and employees include weight loss, smoking cessation and stress management. Tip sheets, posters, wellness emails and more can be provided to employers to share with their workforce. There are also health and wellness resources online that employers can access, such as the Wellness Discounts Directory.


Independent Health also offers lifestyle products, such as Empower and Evolve, to small group employers. Empower offers rewards for individuals who make healthier choices through lower co-pays and deductibles. The Evolve product rewards people for taking an active role in their health, and it incorporates FitWorks, a web-based wellness rewards program.


We can all play a role in creating a culture of health in WNY. By encouraging greater personal responsibility we can improve our employee's and the community's health and lower future health costs. 

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