In the News | Workplace Wellness | Provant

Provant Senior VP of Clinical Interviewed on new Surgeon General's Report

Provant Senior Vice President of Clinical Services Barbara Haydon, BSN, and Senior Director of Clinical Services Amy McAllister, RD, CDOE, LSN, were interviewed by Employee Benefit News regarding the new Surgeon General's report on the increased dangers of smoking and tobacco use, and the need for a stronger emphasis on quitting. In addition to tobacco screenings, Provant provides tobacco use cessation programs customized to a company’s needs. Among the options are health coaching provided in multiple modalities, survival kits with a variety of elective components, nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) with health education support, online tobacco cessation workshops, and assistance with a company’s transition to a tobacco-free work environment. For information about Provant's tobacco screenings and tobacco cessation programs, please contact Trevor Wellen at TWellen@provanthealth.com..Read more »

Provant to Offer Complimentary Health Screenings at Red on the Runway Fashion Show

East Greenwich, RI -- On Saturday, January 18, Provant will offer complimentary biometric screenings to support the RED on the RUNWAY partnership of the American Heart Association of Southern New England and StyleWeek. The screenings and StyleWeek take place at the Providence Biltmore Hotel. Provant, a national leader in workplace health and wellness, will provide the screenings from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This is the first time biometric screenings are being offered at RED on the RUNWAY. They are a meaningful addition to the fashion event, which is designed to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease. “We’re excited to provide StyleWeek participants with the opportunity to receive blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol screenings at no cost,” said Provant Chief Executive Officer Heather Provino. “When individuals learn their screening results and ‘know their numbers’, they gain an important understanding of their current health status, including cardiovascular risk factors they may have.” Provino is a member, and past Board Chairman, of the board of the Southeastern New England chapter of the American Heart Association. About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than six million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island...Read more »

Raja Sait Named Vice President of IT at Provant

East Greenwich, RI -- Provant, a national leader of corporate health and wellness programs and services, announces that it has named Raja Sait as Vice President of Information Technology. In this position, Sait will direct Provant’s ongoing development of integrated health data, applications and standards, while delivering innovative, scalable, industry-leading data tools. Prior to his new position at Provant, Sait held the position of Chief Technology Officer, Fixed Income Division, at Fidelity Investments. While at Fidelity, Sait led the simplification and modernization of fixed income applications and construction of the next generation portfolio construction and risk management. Before joining Fidelity, Sait was a vice president at Putnam Investments. Sait reports to Keith Sheridan, Chief Information Officer for Provant. Sheridan and his team are responsible for Provant’s integrated platform of streamlined reporting, advanced data analytics, and data warehousing services, as well as other innovative products. “Raja brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role,” said Sheridan, chief information officer at Provant. “With his guidance, Provant will continue to build its reputation as a trusted leader for comprehensive, accurate, and timely health and wellness data, and further develop ground-breaking products and services.” Sait said, “I am committed to putting my experience and knowledge to work for our clients. With Provant’s broad range of customers in various industries across North America, we are in a unique position to develop new wellness technology and services, and provide what clients need.” Provant’s strong experience in integrating data from other health sources allows a 360 degree view of both the workforce as a whole and on the individual level. In keeping with HIPAA, aggregated workforce data is provided to clients, while individual data is kept confidential and not shared with the employer. Sait earned his master’s degree in Computer Science at Birla Institute of Technology and Science. About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than six million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island...Read more »

Have health-related New Year's resolutions? These resources can help.

After Dan Williamson unexpectedly landed in the hospital a year and a half ago and underwent heart surgery, his doctor told him that if he wanted to live a healthier life, he was going to have to lose weight. So the 58-year-old chief executive of Aspen Medical Products Inc., an Irvine company that makes therapeutic braces for the spine, vowed to change. "I made a commitment to lose the weight," he says. "Not just to drop it off, but to systematically lose it and keep it off." He lost 45 pounds and now exercises four days a week, he says. "My general health got better, my body fat went down, and it's easier for me to function and do the things I need to do, especially in a stressful environment." Williamson decided to turn his experience into an opportunity for his company's 120 full-time employees. He brought in the fitness professionals who helped him develop an exercise program, and he offered his workers financial incentives to participate. Also available are "lunch and learn" sessions to promote more healthful eating. Programs like this, offered as company health benefits, can help workers go a long way toward meeting personal goals and save money in the process. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-healthcare-watch-20140105,0,2499600.story#ixzz2puGgGuM2..Read more »

Good News about Nuts and Your Health

You may be hesitant to eat nuts because they contain fat, but this idea stems from the misunderstanding that all fats are bad. Despite what you’ve heard, all fats are not created equal. Researchers and clinicians now know certain fats (trans fat and saturated fat) contribute to heart disease, while others (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) actually reduce the risk of a heart attack when substituted for the unhealthy fats. Although nuts contain some saturated fat, most are rich in monounsaturated fats and are packed with important nutrients. Dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, folic acid, potassium, vitamin E and protective phyto-nutrients are found in nuts, all contributors to cardiovascular health. Research about Nuts and Your Health The health benefits of nuts extend beyond your heart. Results of a recent study, led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that people who consumed nuts seven or more times per week had a 20 percent lower death rate that those who did not eat nuts during the study period. Furthermore, among the 120,000 people studied, the researchers found that people who reported increased nut consumption experienced less weight gain during the study period than those people who reported lower levels of nut consumption...Read more »

Adding years to life–and life to years

Today, it’s conventional wisdom and a scientific truism that regular exercise is one of the healthiest habits around. But public health researchers weren’t always so certain that physical fitness was essential. One of the first to scientifically document a link between physical activity and a longer, healthier life was Ralph Paffenbarger Jr., a pioneering epidemiologist who taught at HSPH from the 1960s to the 1990s. His attention-getting formula: Every hour of vigorous physical activity earns the exerciser an extra two or three hours of life...Read more »

Big Ideas 2014: Creating a Culture of Health

The U.S. spends $2,7 trillion a year on health care, more than any other country by far, and yet we are not healthy. Lots of people know this state of affairs is not sustainable. They also know that, to create a healthier nation, we must focus on more than just treating illness. We must create opportunities to pursue the healthiest lives possible, wherever we live, work, learn, and play. So, my big idea for 2014 is the emergence of a Culture of Health. I realize “culture of health” may sound amorphous, but that’s good—almost every aspect of our environment and daily activities affects our health, so we need a big tent to address all the ways these factors interconnect. As the slide show below indicates, everyone has their own definition of a culture of health.* To me, it means a society in which each person has the opportunity to lead a healthy life, with adequate housing, educational opportunities, safety from violence, healthy food options, exercise, and of course, affordable, quality health care..Read more »

Why a Brisk Walk Is Better

Walking, fast or slow, is wonderful exercise. But now a first-of-its-kind study shows that to get the most health benefits from walking, many of us need to pick up the pace. The findings stem from a new analysis of the National Walkers’ Health Study, a large database of information maintained at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory about thousands of middle-age men and women who walk regularly for exercise. Recruited beginning in 1998 at walking events and from lists of subscribers to walking-related publications, these volunteers filled out a lengthy survey about their typical walking distance and pace, as well as their health history and habits. As most of us would likely guess, walking is the most popular physical activity in America. But people who walk for exercise do so at wildly varying speeds and intensities. Some stroll at a leisurely 2 miles per hour, which is low-intensity exercise. Others zip along at twice that pace or better, resulting in a sweatier workout. Exercise guidelines generally suggest that for health purposes, people should engage in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. For walkers, a moderately intense pace would probably be about 15 or 16 minutes per mile..Read more »

Nuts and All-Cause Mortality

The idea that nuts – a nutrient-dense food, full of unsaturated fatty acids, fiber and vitamins and minerals – can have a beneficial effect on health isn’t new. Researchers have found that people who eat nuts have lower levels of cholesterol, decreased rates of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and gallstones...Read more »

New heart guidelines back stronger therapies for high risk patients

New U.S. guidelines on heart health that were a decade in the making recommend stronger measures for patients at particularly high risk of heart attack or stroke, including more aggressive therapy with drugs that lower cholesterol or even bariatric weight loss surgery. The guidelines issued by two leading U.S. medical organizations on Tuesday are likely to be followed by cardiologists and primary care physicians, as well as influence insurance coverage. They still emphasize a healthy diet and exercise as keys to avoiding the No. 1 killer in the country...Read more »

Sweat Your Way To A Healthier Brain

Moving your body may be the best way to protect your brain. Physical exercise can ease depression, slow age-related memory loss and prevent Parkinson-like symptoms, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting underway in San Diego. The findings — some in animals, some in people — suggest that people may be making a mistake if they're relying primarily on crossword puzzles and brain-training games for mental wellness. "We definitely have more evidence for exercise," said Teresa Liu-Ambrose of the University of British Columbia. Liu-Ambrose moderated a panel of scientists who presented studies showing that physical activity offers a wide range of brain benefits..Read more »

Elephant in the room -- obesity continues to challenge health cost reduction

V. The majority of employers questioned by the NEBGH cite “employees’ poor health habits” as one of their top three obstacles to maintaining affordable health coverage. Efforts to improve population health include comprehensive wellness programs, on-site exercise offerings and healthier cafeteria options, but many particularly struggle when it comes to weight management...Read more »

Provant CEO Heather Provino Co-Presents at Long-Term Care Summit

Provant CEO Heather Provino will co-present "Wellnes Strategy and the Role of Biometric Screenings" at a long-term care summit to be held in Texas on October 29. Her talk focuses on developing a comprehensive business strategy designed to assist organizations with population health management and healthcare affordability. Darren Burgess, Vice President, HR & Benefits Systems, at Golden Living will be Provino's co-presenter...Read more »

Flu shots may reduce risk of heart attacks, strokes and even death

Get a flu shot to ward off a case of influenza, and as an added bonus you’ll reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke or other type of unpleasant “cardiovascular event,” a new study finds. For some time, researchers have suspected that flu shots can protect heart health as well as respiratory health. They have tested this theory in a handful of clinical trials, and the results have been mixed. Now an international group of researchers has compiled data from a dozen randomized clinical trials to see if they could get a clearer answer to the question. What they found was “a consistent association between influenza vaccination and a lower risk of cardiovascular events,” according to their report in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn...Read more »

Exercise as Preventive Medicine

A structured exercise program may be as good or better than frequently prescribed drugs for some common cardiovascular ailments, a large meta-analysis has found. Researchers evaluated 57 randomized trials testing the effect on mortality of exercise and drugs in four prevention regimens: the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation from stroke, treatment of heart failure, and prevention of Type 2 diabetes...Read more »

Road Trip! Quick Start to the Wellness Journey

Are you looking for a proven program to drive employee involvement in your company-sponsored wellness program? Road Trip! Destination: Peak Performance...a Journey to a Healthier You is a 4-session workplace wellness program for onsite employee groups, offered by Provant. Designed to engage and empower participants to adopt healthy lifestyles, reduce risk for chronic disease, and, proactively choose high quality health care, this innovative program, developed by the Dallas Fort Worth Business Group on Health, helps break down employee barriers to participating in wellness activities. At the completion of the Road Trip! program, employees are able to: • Minimize risks of chronic conditions • Actively partner with healthcare providers • Accept personal responsibility to use health resources, including employer-sponsored programs, to make sound health-related decisions and optimize their own and their family's well-being. To learn how this effective, affordable program can support your wellness efforts, please contact Kelly Shah, Vice President of Business Development, at kshah@provanthealth.com or 401.234.1699. About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than six million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island...Read more »

Provant CEO Heather Provino Interviewed in Workforce Magazine

Heather Provino, CEO of Provant, was interviewed for Workforce Management Magazine's article As Companies Get Wiser on Wellness Programs, Employees Get Healthier and Wealthier. In the article, Provino spoke to the importance of developing customized wellness programs to fit each company's specific needs and goals...Read more »

September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month

Too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke—two leading causes of death in the U.S. One way to prevent these diseases is to detect high cholesterol and treat it when it is found. Screening is the key to detecting high cholesterol. Because high cholesterol does not have symptoms, many people do not know that their cholesterol is too high. Provant's worksite wellness programs provide cholesterol screenings to help employees understand their health risks and make healthy changes. What role does screening play? Screening is the key to detecting high cholesterol. Because high cholesterol does not have symptoms, many people do not know that their cholesterol is too high. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol level. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.2 You may need to have your cholesterol checked more often if any of the following statements applies to you: Your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or higher. You are a man older than age 45 or a woman older than age 50. Your HDL cholesterol is lower than 40 mg/dL. You have other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.3 Although the number of people who said they were screened for cholesterol within the previous 5 years increased from 73% to 76% from 2005-2009,4 only a handful of states have met the 82% Healthy People 2020 objective, and disparities in getting screened persist...Read more »

F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future

After three decades of increases, adult obesity rates remained level in every state except for one, Arkansas, in the past year. Thirteen states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent. For the first time in eight years, Mississippi no longer has the highest rate — Louisiana at 34.7 percent is the highest, followed closely by Mississippi at 34.6 percent. Colorado had the lowest rate at 20.5 percent...Read more »

Heavy Burden: Obesity may be even Deadlier than Thought

Obesity kills far more Americans than we think it does, according to a controversial new study that suggests obesity accounts of about 18 percent of all deaths in the United States - three times previous estimates. The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, suggests the latest government estimates soft-pedal the dangers of obesity. And the controversy over the findings show how difficult it is to calculate the costs of being overweight. With a third of Americans overweight and another 35 percent obese, it’s not a trivial question. The federal government has been in hot water over the issue before. In 2004 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slashed its estimates of obesity-related deaths from 365,000 a year to 112,000 a year, amid a battle over how it made its calculations. And a few recent studies have shown that for people over 65, having a little extra pudge may be protective. But Ryan Masters, who did the latest study while at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Columbia University, says he’s found obesity is the cause of 20 percent of deaths among women and 15 percent of men...Read more »

Provant CEO Heather Provino Interviewed by Institute of HealthCare Consumerism

On Friday, July 19, Provant CEO Heather Provino will be interviewed by Doug Field, CEO at the Institute of HealthCare Consumerism (IHC) and Editorial Advisory Chairman Ron Bachman. Provino will discuss the use of incentives to drive employee engagement in worksite health and wellness programs. The live interview for IHC can be heard at 11:15 am ET on the IHC’s online radio station http://www.americaswebradio.com/ Provino is an exercise physiologist and sport psychologist who translated her passion for health into creating a company that is a leading national provider of worksite health and wellness solutions. Her leadership has shaped Provant's commitment to industry best practices in the form of regular accreditation with the National Committee for Quality Assurance, adherence to Six Sigma process management standards, and the development of customized wellness programs that reduce employee health risks and build cultures of health. Prior to Provant, Provino spent more than a decade in the health promotion and management industry. She was responsible for the operation of wellness centers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island and provided strategic development for wellness and rehabilitative services as a private consultant. Provino holds two Master of Science degrees in Exercise Physiology and Sport Psychology. She is a member, and past Board Chairman, of the Rhode Island chapter of the American Heart Association, as well as member of the executive leadership team for Go Red for Women. She served as a wellness expert on three 2013 TEDMED Great Challenges panels on Inventing Wellness Progams that Work and wellness in the community. About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than six million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island...Read more »

Leading Worksite Wellness Company Provant Expands Leadership Team

Provant, a national leading provider of customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services, has significantly expanded its leadership team in response to its clients’ evolving needs. “The recent additions to our leadership team are a direct result of the increased needs of our clients and participants, and our commitment to assist in changing the landscape of population health management,” remarked Heather A. Provino, Provant’s Chief Executive Officer. Recent additions include John Vaillancourt as Chief Financial Officer, Bill Dunne as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Client Management, Barbara Anketell as Senior Vice President of Operations, and Keith Sheridan as Chief Information Officer. “Each of the leaders we have added brings a remarkable level of expertise in their own area, as well as a passion and dedication to the work Provant does each and every day,” Provino continued. As CFO, John Vaillancourt brings more than 25 years of expertise to Provant’s team. Vaillancourt steers Provant’s financial and accounting functions, including strategic planning, reporting, budgeting and forecasting, while also providing vision and guidance for company growth and development. Joining as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Client Management, Bill Dunne spearheads Provant’s growth-oriented business development and client satisfaction initiatives, utilizing his more than 25 years of practice in healthcare and insurance services. Barbara Anketell, Senior Vice President of Operations, joins Provant with more than 25 years of experience in re-engineering and operations redesign in the healthcare sector. Anketell expertly leads Provant’s operations, systems, human resources, organizational development, training, and customer service. Keith Sheridan, Chief Information Officer, leads Provant’s performance optimizations and cost efficiencies across the organization’s information systems, analytics and reporting platforms, technological operational processes, and IT personnel management. Sheridan also leads the development and execution of strategic technology initiatives, platform architecture and data operations, system software and user interfaces, and overall solutions delivery. About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than six million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island...Read more »

Provant CEO Heather Provino on TEDMED Panel of Experts

In today’s TEDMED Great Challenges Google+ Hangout, Provant CEO Heather Provino participates in an online panel focusing on health in communities. She joins her fellow Great Challenges team members at 2 pm ET to discuss how to promote well-being, active lifestyles, and how to make prevention popular. TEDMED’s Health is Where We Live, Work, Play, and Pray features live video chats...Read more »

Provant Achieves Fifth Consecutive NCQA Certification in Wellness and Health Promotion Measure Reporting Expertise

Provant, a leading provider of customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services, proudly announces the completion of their fifth consecutive NCQA-Certified HEDIS® Compliance Audit™ for Wellness & Health Promotion measure reporting. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of healthcare organizations and manages the evolution of HEDIS, the performance measurement tool used by more than 90 percent of the nation’s health plans. Wellness & Health Promotion Accreditation assesses health plans and vendors that provide wellness services using an evidence-based set of requirements to distinguish quality services. “This achievement assures our clients of the validity of the outcome measures and results we regularly provide them; it is a critical component for Provant’s success,” said Provant Chief Executive Officer, Heather A. Provino. “Our continued accreditation demonstrates to our clients that we adhere to best practice principles.” Wellness & Health Promotion Accreditation surveys include rigorous onsite and offsite evaluations of 12 standards conducted by a team of experts. Following the surveys, a national oversight committee of physicians analyzes the team’s findings and assigns an accreditation level based on the performance of each organization, compared to NCQA’s standards. The standards are purposely set high to encourage continuous quality enhancement among wellness and health promotion organizations. No comparable evaluation exists for wellness and health promotion programs. “NCQA’s Wellness & Health Promotion Accreditation requires organizations to demonstrate their compliance with well-defined standards and quality measures,” said Margaret E. O’Kane, NCQA President. The NCQA seal will provide employers and consumers with the information they need to choose the best program in their markets.” About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than six million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island...Read more »

Provant CEO Shares Key Insights on Employee Engagement & Effective Incentive Program Design at SHRM

Provant, a leading provider of customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services, announces that Chief Executive Officer, Heather Provino, is hosting a conference session at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2013 Annual Conference & Exposition, in Chicago, IL, June 16-19, 2013. Provino’s session, “Designing Effective Incentive Programs That Drive Employee Engagement,” delivers actionable advice to SHRM attendees on how to successfully implement motivational and engaging workforce wellness programs through the use of incentive programs. “Presenting at SHRM is a tremendous opportunity for me to share the vision for health and wellness that we at Provant live everyday,” said Provino. “I look forward to delivering an engaging and interactive session for attendees, leveraging the data-driven insight and proven outcomes that have helped us to touch more than six million lives across the country.” Provino’s session will take place on the closing day of the conference, June 19, from 11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. SHRM attendees may also visit Provant at their booth at the event exposition to learn more about their award-winning approach to health and wellness. For more information on Provant, please visit provanthealth.com or to learn more about SHRM 2013, visit annual.shrm.org...Read more »

How Often to Exercise

Does it really matter if I work out three days in a row, rather than spreading my exercise through the week? It probably does matter. As Dr. Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., points out, exercise has long-lasting, cumulative effects on your health and fitness, but it also produces acute effects that don’t necessarily linger. A brisk walk can lead to almost immediate improvements in blood-sugar control and blood pressure for many people, he says. But if you then don’t walk or otherwise exercise for several consecutive days, those health benefits can evaporate..Read more »

More employers expect ACA to increase their costs

While employers can calculate – or at least try to – the number of employees who will be newly eligible for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act on Jan. 1, they have no way of knowing how many will actually elect coverage. More companies are foreseeing a negative cost impact from the ACA, according to research from Mercer released Wednesday, and nearly a quarter are still uncertain how they will track wage earners who work variable hours. In the survey of nearly 900 employers, 9% of respondents say ACA will have little or no cost impact on their bottom line (adding less than 1%), down significantly from the 25% who thought so in 2011...Read more »

Even A Small Change In Habits Helps Fend Off Stroke

This is not one of those posts that is going to beat you up for doing a crummy job exercising, eating better and all the other things you're failing to do to ward off death. Instead, this post is here to say that if you improve one thing just one teeny bit, it's going to lower your risk of having a stroke. So pick something, and stick to it. Stroke, which happens when a blood vessel bursts or is blocked in the brain, is a leading cause of death and disability. Scientists looked at seven factors known to affect stroke risk: cigarette smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, physical activity and diet. Most Americans aren't doing so well on these. And most of us, knowing we're supposed to be doing better on them all, just sigh and reach for the remote...Read more »

Fittest cities take exercise publicly and personally

Cities that provide parks, walking trails, playing fields and running tracks are setting standards for the country's healthiest urban areas and showing that if they build fitness opportunities, residents will come. A new ranking of the 50 healthiest U.S. cities weighs "community indicators" that include everything from obesity rates and percentage of smokers to the number of baseball diamonds and tennis courts. "Community indicators and personal health pretty much follow each other," said Walter Thompson, the chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine's American Fitness Index Advisory Board, which compiled the report...Read more »

Final ACA wellness rules issued

n May 29, the U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Labor (DOL) and Health and Human Services issued final regulations amending the 2006 HIPAA nondiscrimination wellness regulationsto implement the employer wellness program provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The final rules retain the two categories of wellness programs – “participatory wellness programs” and “health-contingent wellness programs.”..Read more »

Provant Chief Executive Officer, Heather A. Provino, Named Health Care "Woman to Watch" by Providence Business News

Heather Provino, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Provant, a leading provider of worksite health and wellness programs, has been named a “Woman to Watch” in Health Care Services by Providence Business News’ sixth annual Business Women Awards. Provino is celebrated, alongside Rhode Island businesswomen across six industry categories, for leading the community through exceptional career achievements and mentorship. In the past nine years Provant has flourished, growing from just two to 132 Rhode Island-based employees and a network of over 10,000 employees nationwide. As CEO, Provino is core to maintaining Provant’s passionate, committed team culture, as she encourages a true work/life balance for her employees and their families. Barbara Anketell, Senior Vice President of Operations, describes Provino as “as inspirational leader who guides us in managing the health of over six million employees nationwide. She impacts each program participant in truly meaningful ways by leading our staff who identify personal health risks and encourage healthy behaviors. She is thoroughly dedicated to improving people’s health.” “Heather’s passion is contagious and is the catalyst for our teams when working with our client partners,” adds Bill Dunne, Senior Vice President of Business Development. Provino and other Providence Business News Business Women Award winners will be recognized at a luncheon at the Providence Marriott on May 30, 2013 from noon to 2 p.m. About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than 6 million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. To learn more, visit www.provanthealth.com..Read more »

Provant Recognizes National Employee Health & Fitness Day, Encourages Employers to Cultivate a Healthier Workforce

Without good health, people can’t be their best selves—at home, at play or at work. National Employee Health & Fitness Day—a day dedicated to promoting physical activity in the workplace—is an annual event that occurs the third Wednesday of every May. To celebrate the national observance, Provant encourages employers and employees alike to adopt healthy habits. “National Employee Health & Fitness Day is a great time to encourage your employees to make healthy changes,” remarked Barbara Haydon, Senior Vice President of Clinical Services. “Big and small, these changes add up to better health, and better lives for your employees.” By offering high-touch, individualized wellness programs, employers can truly motivate and engage their employees as active participants and partners in their own health, and in the health of their organization. “We know that healthier people are happier people,” continued Haydon. “When people are happier, they reach for better. They contribute more and they’re more productive and engaged at work.” Worksite wellness programs are shown to improve the health, well-being and productivity of employees. Since day one, Provant has been dedicated to delivering personalized, innovative and impactful workplace wellness programs. How healthy is your workforce? Get a complimentary evaluation by visiting www.provanthealth.com. About Provant Founded in 2001, Provant’s vision is to change the health of America, one person at a time. With its network of 10,000+ employees nationwide, Provant touches more than 6 million lives by delivering customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Provant is a privately held company and is headquartered in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. To learn more, visit www.provanthealth.com..Read more »

5 Tips for Achieving Better Work-Life Balance

“I used to be caught up in the spin cycle of thinking that net worth automatically afforded me life worth,” says Gary Kunath, an entrepreneur, former CEO and author of “Life ... Don't Miss It. I Almost Did: How I Learned To Live Life To The Fullest.” However, Kunath adds, “At a certain point you realize that money doesn't make you rich, it just allows you to buy more stuff.” U.S. workers seem to have achieved a similar realization, as most employees prioritize satisfaction over salary and prize work-life balance. Kunath offers professionals five ways to achieve balance and improve their “life worth.” 1. Look for signs you’re falling into the net-worth trap. 2. Don’t be an employee, be employable. 3. Accept that bad things happen to good people. 4. Believe in something bigger than you. 5. Give three great gifts...Read more »

Slowdown in Health Costs’ Rise May Last as Economy Revives

One of the economic mysteries of the last few years has been the bigger-than-expected slowdown in health spending, a trend that promises to bolster wages and help close the wide federal deficit over the long term — but only if it persists. Between 2009 and 2011, total health spending grew at the lowest annual pace in the last five decades, at just 3.9 percent a year, although rising out-of-pocket costs have hit millions of families. In contrast, between 2000 and 2007, those annual growth figures ranged between 6.2 and 9.7 percent, according to government figures. Data from the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit research organization in Ann Arbor, Mich., suggests that the low pace of growth has continued through 2012 and early 2013...Read more »

Is Walking as Healthy as Running?

Walking briskly provides health benefits comparable to running, including lowering your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and potentially heart disease, according to a comprehensive new study of over 33,000 runners and 15,000 walkers. If you’re among the many people who prefer a moderately-paced stroll to a strenuous sprint, these findings will come as welcome news. The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB), analyzed six years’ worth of data from participants. Researchers found that what mattered wasn’t the level of exercise intensity, but how many calories were burned during the workout. Over a six-year period, both activities significantly trimmed risk for these dangerous health issues: High blood pressure. Running cut risk for developing high blood pressure by 4.2 percent, compared to a 7 percent drop for walking regularly. High cholesterol. Running lowered risk by 4.3 percent, versus a 7 percent reduction for walking. Diabetes. Running and walking both lowered risk by about 12 percent. Heart disease. Running shrank the risk 4.5 percent, while walking lowered it by 9.3 percent...Read more »

Do We Need to Stretch?

We know that stretching before exercise tends to be counterproductive because in loosening muscles, it also temporarily weakens them. But whether you should stretch at other times — after exercise, for instance, or first thing in the morning or just before bed — is murkier, in part because studies of stretching have not been standardized. Some have had young, healthy volunteers stretch for 20 minutes or more, others for 5 minutes or less. Still others have used older, stiffer volunteers or people with existing injuries. Not surprisingly, the results have been inconsistent. Even within the same study, people respond quite differently to stretching, with some showing increased flexibility and others not. Still, the consensus among scientists who study stretching is that the practice has benefits...Read more »

You Are Probably Aging Faster Than Your Parents: New Study

Have you ever worried that you're going to turn into your parents? Well, if you're not careful it's going to happen sooner than you think-and in ways you might not have expected. An April 2013 paper in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that when it comes to metabolic health (basically, how well your body uses insulin to process the sugar in your blood), today's 45 year olds are on par with 60 year olds of the generations before them. What does that mean for 20- and 30-somethings?..Read more »

When Cheeseburger = Walking, Will We Eat Less?

Nutrition labeling has been required on packaged food since 1990, and the new federal food safety law will require calorie counts to be posted for restaurant food — all in an effort to get the American public to eat healthier. But most studies on calorie count labels show they don't do much to nudge people toward better food choices. If I want that oh-so-delicious Chunky Monkey ice cream, knowing that a half-cup serving delivers 300 calories and 18 grams of fat isn't going to stop me. But what if I knew that it would take me an hour and 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off those Chunky Monkey calories? Would I think twice?..Read more »

For Many Employers, Employee Wellness is No Longer Merely an Option

There have been a number of companies making headlines over the past year as details of various wellness initiatives have been leaked to the public. Some make health screenings mandatory, or face a financial penalty per month on their health insurance premiums. Although some may tout these measures as being drastic, they are becoming increasingly common for employers looking to combat the rising cost of health care. In fact, the Compdata Surveys Benefits USA 2012/2013 survey results found 34% of employers offering wellness programs either provide insurance discounts for employees participating in wellness programs or impose penalties on employees with risk factors, who aren't taking action. That's up from just 25.4% in 2009...Read more »

The 5 Most Common Running Injuries and How to Fix Them

Running may not be a contact sport, but runners can certainly rack up a slew of injuries. Here, the most common running injuries and how to feel better fast. #1: Runner's Knee and ITBFS Runner's knee is often called ITB friction syndrome (ITBFS), but the two are actually different things. "Runner's knee happens when cartilage in the kneecap is irritated, while ITB friction syndrome occurs when the tendon from your hip to the outer knee gets tight and inflamed, irritating the outer bone of the knee," says Leon Popovitz, MD, founder of the New York Bone & Joint Specialists in New York. Combined, these two make up a majority of the knee problems runners experience...Read more »

Drinking cup of beetroot juice daily may help lower blood pressure

Study Highlights: - Blood pressure decreased about 10 mm Hg in high blood pressure patients who drank a cup of beetroot juice daily. - Beetroot juice contains dietary nitrate, which may help relax blood vessel walls and improve blood flow. - Increasing intake of foods rich in dietary nitrate may be an affordable and attainable way to manage blood pressure. cup of beetroot juice a day may help reduce your blood pressure, according to a small study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension...Read more »

Getting more potassium and less salt may cut heart attack, stroke risk

Salt is a cheap, easy way to turn on taste buds. That’s one reason why it’s in so many of the foods we eat. It’s so commonly used that most Americans consume more than double the recommended daily limit for it. Why limit salt? Because it is the body’s main source of sodium. We need a little bit of sodium to transmit nerve impulses, to contract muscle fibers, and, along with potassium, to balance fluid levels in all of our cells. But getting too much sodium and too little potassium can have a major impact on overall health. It can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Three new studies in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) once again confirm the relationship between salt intake and health problems...Read more »

Adults younger than 65 more likely to skip drugs to save money

Adults who haven’t reached retirement age were twice as likely as those who have to skip their prescribed medications to save money, a U.S. study finds. About 20% of adults regardless of age have asked their doctors for a lower cost treatment, according to the study released Tuesday by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spending on drugs is expected to increase an average of 6.6% a year from 2015 through 2021, the Kaiser Family Foundation has reported...Read more »

Health, Well-Being Programs Miss Productivity Connection

The link between health and employee productivity is becoming increasingly clear; however, only a minority of employers make this connection within their health and well-being programs, according to a survey from Towers Watson. The latest "Health, Wellbeing and Productivity" survey shows that 66% of employers see linking health to employee performance as a relatively limited part of their health and well-being program. Looking at the next two years, some 69% of companies are planning to develop their health and well-being strategies, but only 11% see productivity as a priority for this development. For many organizations, the main drivers for employers to develop their health and well-being programs are the desire to be seen as a responsible employer along with the need to focus on more preventive health measures to managing rising health-care and disability costs. "It is encouraging to see more companies planning to increase their support for health and well-being plans in the future, but it is disappointing that not many think about how these programs can help increase productivity," said Rebekah Haymes, senior health and well-being consultant at Towers Watson. "Improved health can help to manage absence, stress and employee performance," Haymes continued. "These all have a commercial payback. Without the link between employee behavior and payback to the employer, it raises the question as to why companies are promoting a health and well-being agenda."..Read more »

Culprit in Heart Disease Goes Beyond Meat’s Fat

It was breakfast time and the people participating in a study of red meat and its consequences had hot, sizzling sirloin steaks plopped down in front of them. The researcher himself bought a George Foreman grill for the occasion, and the nurse assisting him did the cooking. For the sake of science, these six men and women ate every last juicy bite of the 8-ounce steaks. Then they waited to have their blood drawn. Dr. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic, who led the study, and his colleagues had accumulated evidence for a surprising new explanation of why red meat may contribute to heart disease. And they were testing it with this early morning experiment...Read more »

Walking and Running May Offer Similar Heath Benefits

Walkers who feel as though they are way down on the exercise chain can now hold their heads a little higher. When it comes to lowering risk factors for heart disease, walking is just as good as running, according to a new study. After six years of following a large pool of runners and walkers, researchers found that running lowered the risk of developing hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure) by 4.2 percent, high cholesterol by 4.3 percent and diabetes by 12.1 percent. Running also reduced the risk of developing coronary heart disease by 4.5 percent, compared with 9.3 percent for walking. However, the small number of coronary heart disease cases in the study made it difficult to determine if walking and running caused similar reductions in risk, the researchers said. Researchers analyzed the exercise habits of 33,060 runners enrolled in the National Runners' Health Study and 15,045 walkers participating in the National Walkers' Health Study. Participants' ages ranged from 18 to 80, though most were in their 40s and 50s. Men represented 21 percent of the walkers and 51.4 percent of the runners...Read more »

A New Endorsement for Fish

Scientists have turned up ample evidence that consumption of seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against cardiovascular disease. But the data have usually been indirect, gleaned from food questionnaires used to estimate consumption. But now a new analysis relying on blood tests and years of clinical exams confirms that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk for heart disease and death in people over age 65. The blood tests were used to track the levels of three different types of omega-3 in 2,692 randomly selected people, average age 74 at the start of the study, for 14 years. All were generally healthy and without previous heart disease. None used fish oil supplements. The study was published online Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine...Read more »

Longer Use Approved for Nicotine Replacements

The Food and Drug Administration said that smokers who are trying to quit can safely use over-the counter nicotine gum, patches and lozenges for longer than previously recommended. Current labels suggest that consumers stop using nicotine-replacement products after 12 weeks at most, and that they stop smoking while using them. But the F.D.A. said Monday that the products’ makers can change the labels that say not to smoke when using the products and that the companies can tell consumers they can use the products for longer periods as part of a plan to quit smoking, as long as they are talking to their doctor...Read more »

Employers report increased use — and effectiveness — of health incentives

A pair of surveys released this week from Aon Hewitt indicate that employers are increasingly turning to incentives to drive health programs and get employees to take actions to improve their well-being Eighty-three percent of 800 large and mid-size American employers — representing more than 7 million workers — now use some form of incentive to get employees more aware of their health status, the consulting firm finds. Site Navigation Topics Health Care Health Reform Retirement Disability/Life Quality of Life HR/Benefits Corner Office Op/Ed Articles Professional Life Voluntary Benefits Articles Providers / Brokers Products & Services Podcasts Blogs Web Seminars E-Newsletters White Papers Print Products eBooks Events Benefits Forum and Expo Employee Benefit Adviser Summit Workplace Benefits Mania Resources Industry Resources CareerZone Marketplace Benefits Bookstore Advertisement Free Newsletters Free Seminars and Podcasts from Industry Experts Free Online Content and More Employers report increased use — and effectiveness — of health incentives Print Email Reprints inShare14 By Tristan Lejeune March 28, 2013 A pair of surveys released this week from Aon Hewitt indicate that employers are increasingly turning to incentives to drive health programs and get employees to take actions to improve their well being. Eighty-three percent of 800 large and mid-size American employers — representing more than 7 million workers — now use some form of incentive to get employees more aware of their health status, the consulting firm finds. Like what you see? Click here to sign up for Employee Benefit News daily newsletter to get the latest news and important insight into trends in benefits management. To encourage workers to take actions such as filling out a health risk questionnaire or participating in biometric screening, the majority of employers use both carrots and sticks. Out of the 83% that uses incentives, 79% offer rewards, 5% offer consequences and 16% offer a mix of both. In terms of dollar amounts, 64% use monetary incentives of between $50 and $500, and 18% use incentives of more than $500...Read more »

Employers Try To Spur Healthy Behaviors With Health Plan Rewards

s employers try to nudge employees toward healthy behaviors, a growing number are taking aim at the medical expense accounts linked to the health plans they offer their workers. And, increasingly, the hefty financial contributions employers are dangling in front of employees are dependent on certain conditions, such whether employees keep their blood pressure in check, for example, or agree to work with a health coach to manage their diabetes. Along with cash and reduced premiums, the contributions are one more way employers are trying to boost participation in health programs. According to the 2013 annual health benefits survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, released earlier this month, two-thirds of companies with 1,000 employees or more offered health insurance plans that included medical expense accounts. And 26 percent of those large employers tied their account contributions to wellness or health management behaviors. Another 29 percent of employers said they planned to do so in 2014, the survey found...Read more »

Energy Drinks Linked to Adverse Health Effects

Shares of Monster Beverage fell after new research indicated that energy drinks may increase blood pressure and disturb the heart's rhythm.The company has come under mounting pressure from critics regarding potential health risks of Monster Energy, the top-selling U.S. energy drink...Read more »

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Supreme Court Justice Who Can Do More Push-Ups Than You

While Michelle Obama and Paul Ryan are famous for their sculpted biceps, there is another member of Washington's power elite you might not want to challenge to an arm wrestling match. The sparrow-like Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the Washington Post she cranks out an impressive number of push-ups during her twice-weekly workout sessions with personal trainer, Bryant Johnson. Johnson, a six-foot-tall, 206-pound former Army reservist who spent three years in Kuwait with the Special Forces, doesn't hold back with the 100-pound octogenarian who barely clears the five-foot mark. No knees-on-the-ground "girlie" push-ups for her. Ginsburg dutifully performs two sets of ten plank-style traditional push-ups at the end of each hour-long workout...Read more »

Distracted eaters likely to take in more calories

People who eat meals or snacks while watching TV, playing games or reading tend to consume more calories in a sitting, and especially later in the day, according to a review of two dozen past studies. "Some studies have individually shown this before, but the evidence has never been put together," said lead author Eric Robinson from the University of Liverpool, UK. According to Robinson, distracted eating could increase the amount of food consumed by up to 50 percent. On the other hand, summoning memories of what was eaten in a previous meal decreased the amount of food eaten later...Read more »

Benefits of quitting smoking outpace risk of modest weight gain

The improvement in cardiovascular health that results from quitting smoking far outweighs the limited risks to cardiovascular health from the modest amount of weight gained after quitting, reports a National Institutes of Health-funded community study. The study found that former smokers without diabetes had about half as much risk of developing cardiovascular disease as current smokers, and this risk level did not change when post-cessation weight gain was accounted for in the analysis. This study is the first epidemiological effort to directly address the health impact of the weight gain that many people experience following smoking cessation. The findings will be published in the March 13 Journal of the American Medical Association. “Our findings suggest that a modest weight gain, around 5-10 pounds, has a negligible effect on the net benefit of quitting smoking,” said study co-author Caroline Fox, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator in the Laboratory for Metabolic and Population Health at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). “Being able to quantify to some degree the relationship between the benefits and side effects of smoking cessation can help in counseling those who have quit or are thinking about quitting.”..Read more »

Medical savings accounts on the upswing

That’s up from 2006, when there were 1.3 million accounts with $873.4 million in assets, and 2011, when 8.5 million accounts held $12.4 billion in assets. As of 2012 there was $17.8 billion in health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), spread across 11.6 million accounts, according to data from the latest EBRI/MGA Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey, sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Matthew Greenwald & Associates.The balances continue to grow as more employers adopt high-deductible, consumer-driven health plans combined with HSAs/HRAs. However, assumptions about these plans are not always proving true...Read more »

Chronic Insomnia Affects Heart

Insomnia may be linked to an increased risk of heart failure, according to a large new study, and the more insomnia symptoms, the greater the risk.The study, published last week in The European Heart Journal, used questionnaires to gather data on difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and waking unrefreshed among more than 54,000 Norwegian adults in a population-wide health survey. All were free of heart disease at the start of the study; there were 1,412 cases of heart failure over an average of 11 years of follow-up...Read more »

Obese States: The Highest And Lowest Rates Of Obesity, By State

The obesity rate in the United States is, on a whole, staying steady, according to a new Gallup-Healthways report. The report shows that the obesity rate was 26.2 percent in 2012, which is about the same as the 26.1 percent rate in 2011. State obesity rates have also largely remained unchanged, with only three states experiencing an increase in obesity -- New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia -- and one state actually experiencing a decrease in obesity -- Delaware. Of all the states, Colorado had the lowest obesity rate at 18.7 percent. Meanwhile, West Virginia had the highest obesity rate at 33.5 percent. The report, which is based on telephone interviews from 353,564 U.S. adults conducted between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 last year, also examined rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in the United States...Read more »

Selling Kids On Veggies When Rules Like 'Clean Your Plate' Fail

In our new poll, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 25 of families tell their children to eat everything on their plate, and 45% report setting restrictions on the types of foods eaten. Increasingly common are rules like "clean your plate," as well as newer strictures such as "no second helpings of potatoes," "no dessert until you eat your vegetables" and "sodas and chips only on special occasions." This is all well-meant advice. But does it work? Kelly Brownell, who directs the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, says, "No." "By demanding that children eat things like vegetables before they have a dessert, it makes it seem like there's something wrong with eating vegetables, and that you have to swallow medicine before you get to the good part," Brownell says...Read more »

New Health Care Survey Finds Spending on Wellness Incentives Has Doubled in the Last Four Years

According to a new employer survey conducted by Fidelity Investments® and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), corporate employers plan to spend an average of $521 per employee on wellness-based incentives within corporate health care programs. This marks an increase of 13 percent from the average of $460 reported for 2011, and is double the per employee average of $260 reported in 2009. The survey is the latest in a series of studies Fidelity and the NBGH have conducted since 2009 to analyze the growth of health-improvement programs, or “wellness” programs, in the workplace. These programs typically consist of condition-management services (e.g., managing insulin treatments), lifestyle-management services (e.g., weight loss advice), health-risk management services (e.g., on-site flu shots), and environmental enhancements (e.g., bike racks, walking paths)...Read more »

Spanish Test: Mediterranean Diet Shines In Clinical Study

Pour on the olive oil in good conscience, and add some nuts while you're at it. A careful test of the so-called Mediterranean diet involving more than 7,000 people at a high risk of having heart attacks and strokes found the diet reduced them when compared with a low-fat diet. A regular diet of Mediterranean cuisine also reduced the risk of dying. The findings, published online by The New England Journal of Medicine, come from a study conducted right in the heart of Mediterranean country: Spain...Read more »

10 Ways You're Wrecking Your Immune System

Muscle up your immunity 1. You avoid the water cooler 2. You're a night owl 3. You're a downer 4. You bottle up your moods 5. You're under the gun 6. You don't carry a pen 7. You drive everywhere 8. Your friends smoke 9. You love antibiotics 10. You're Little Miss Serious..Read more »

The Nutrients in Fruits and Veggies

The colorful skin of an apple, grape or tomato is certainly chockfull of nutrients. But by no means are the outer layers of most fruits and vegetables the prime source of their nutrition. Part of what makes some fruits and vegetables so rich with color – wax and pesticides notwithstanding – are pigments in the skin that have healthful antioxidant properties. Resveratrol, for example, is found in the skin of red grapes and other fruits. But lycopene, one of the pigments that gives tomatoes and bell peppers their deep red color, is distributed throughou..Read more »

When to Retire a Running Shoe

Ryan Hall, one of the world’s best distance runners, used to pride himself on wearing his running shoes into nubs. No more. Now he assiduously replaces his shoes after running about 200 miles in them. He goes through two pairs a month. “I know that my shoes could probably handle a couple of hundred more miles before they are worn out, but my health is so important to me that I like to always make sure my equipment is fresh,” he said...Read more »

Health, Wellness Are Priorities for Individual Canadians, But Less So for Governments

Canadians see their own daily activities as the most important factor affecting their health, but governments spend only a small fraction of their health-care budgets on health promotion, according to a Conference Board of Canada study, "Health Matters: An Economic Perspective." The findings suggest that incremental investments on public health today could produce long-term savings for individuals, the health-care system and the economy. Canadians appear to understand the connection between lifestyle and health. Canadians appear to understand the connection between lifestyle and health. An EKOS Research Associates survey for The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC) revealed that 48% of respondents feel daily activities have the greatest effect on the health of the average Canadian. No other factor was close — including income levels (18%), the health-care system (17%), quality of food and water (10%), and environmental factors (6%). "The health of Canadians is unquestionably a private matter, but it is increasingly becoming a public concern," said Louis Theriault, director, health economics, CASHC. "The collective health of Canadians has implications for the public health-care system and for the economy. Treating health and wellness as a policy priority, rather than focusing so much on health care, could contribute to a healthier population and a wealthier Canada."..Read more »

Why Four Workouts a Week May Be Better Than Six

A common concern about exercise is that if you don’t do it almost every day, you won’t achieve much health benefit. But a commendable new study suggests otherwise, showing that a fairly leisurely approach to scheduling workouts may actually be more beneficial than working out almost daily. For the new study, published this month in Exercise & Science in Sports & Medicine, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham gathered 72 older, sedentary women and randomly assigned them to one of three exercise groups. One group began lifting weights once a week and performing an endurance-style workout, like jogging or bike riding, on another day. Another group lifted weights twice a week and jogged or rode an exercise bike twice a week. The final group, as you may have guessed, completed three weight-lifting and three endurance sessions, or six weekly workouts. The exercise, which was supervised by researchers, was easy at first and meant to elicit changes in both muscles and endurance. Over the course of four months, the intensity and duration gradually increased, until the women were jogging moderately for 40 minutes and lifting weights for about the same amount of time...Read more »

Slower Growth of Health Costs Eases Budget Deficit

A sharp and surprisingly persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs is helping to narrow the federal deficit, leaving budget experts trying to figure out whether the trend will last and how much the slower growth could help alleviate the country’s long-term fiscal problems. Health experts say they do not yet fully understand what is driving the lower spending trajectory. But there is a growing consensus that changes in how doctors and hospitals deliver health care — as opposed to merely a weak economy — are playing a role. Still, experts sharply disagree on where spending might be in future years, a question with major ramifications for the federal deficit, family budgets and the overall economy...Read more »

Getting Into Your Exercise Groove

This isn’t meant as an insult, but you are physiologically lazy. So am I. So are we all. Using treadmill testing, scientists have definitively established that, like other animals, humans naturally aim to use as little energy as possible during most movement. So when we walk or run, our bodies tend to choose a particular cadence, a combination of step length and step frequency, that allows us to move at any given speed with as little physiological effort as possible. How we pick that cadence, though, and whether we can or would even want to change it has been unclear. But a series of recent studies involving runners, walkers, metronomes and virtual reality curtains suggests that while the tug of physiological laziness is strong, it can be controlled, or at least tweaked, with some conscious effort — and perhaps your iPhone playlist...Read more »

Low Heart Disease Risk for Vegetarians

Going meatless gives vegetarians a 32 percent lower heart disease risk than non-vegetarians, a British study found, offering further proof that eating meat can be hazardous to health. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved 44,561 people enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford Study, which began in England and Scotland in 1993. Researchers sought to compare a range of diets and their impact on overall health, and 34 percent of all participants were vegetarians...Read more »

Go Red for Women

Do you know what causes heart disease in women? What about the survival rate? Or whether women of all ethnicities share the same risk? The fact is: Heart disease kills one in three women each year – that’s approximately one woman every minute. But it doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men. What’s more: These facts only begin to scratch the surface...Read more »

10 Incredibly Easy Ways To Improve Your Life

1) Get out in nature: You probably seriously underestimate how important this is. (Actually, there’s research that says you do.) Being in nature reduces stress, makes you more creative, improves your memory and may even make you a better person. 2) Exercise: We all know how important this is, but few people do it consistently. Other than health benefits too numerous to mention, exercise makes you smarter, happier, improves sleep, increases libido and makes you feel better about your body. A Harvard study that has tracked a group of men for more than 70 years identified it as one of the secrets to a good life. 3) Spend time with friends and family: Harvard happiness expert Daniel Gilbert identified this as one of the biggest sources of happiness in our lives. Relationships are worth more than you think (approximately an extra $131,232 a year.)..Read more »

Keeping Blood Pressure in Check

Since the start of the 21st century, Americans have made great progress in controlling high blood pressure, though it remains a leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. Now 48 percent of the more than 76 million adults with hypertension have it under control, up from 29 percent in 2000. But that means more than half, including many receiving treatment, have blood pressure that remains too high to be healthy. (A normal blood pressure is lower than 120 over 80.) With a plethora of drugs available to normalize blood pressure, why are so many people still at increased risk of disease, disability and premature death? Hypertension experts offer a few common, and correctable, reasons...Read more »

Walk While You Talk: The Meeting Goes Mobile

Who likes meetings? Anybody? Didn't think so. Now what if the meeting were held on the go instead of in a stuffy conference room? If that sounds a little better, then try a walking meeting. You and your colleagues can talk shop and get some exercise. Popularized by tech magnates Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg (and some underworld figures long before them), walking meetings are touted as a way to improve health while also strengthening work relationships. Just about anybody can make these mobile meetings work, says Nilofer Merchant, author of the book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era. Merchant recently wrote a blog post about her own experience with walking meetings for the Harvard Business Review, and she'll be giving a TED talk on the topic next month...Read more »

Putting a Number on Smoking’s Toll

It is often said that smoking takes years off your life, and now a new study shows just how many: Longtime smokers can expect to lose about 10 years of life expectancy. But amid those grim findings was some good news for former smokers. Those who quit before they turn 35 can gain most if not all of that decade back, and even those who wait until middle age to kick the habit can add about five years back to their life expectancies. “There’s the old saw that everyone knows smoking is bad for you,” said Dr. Tim McAfee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But this paints a much more dramatic picture of the horror of smoking. These are real people that are getting 10 years of life expectancy hacked off — and that’s just on average.”..Read more »

Flu season fuels debate over paid sick time laws

Sniffling, groggy and afraid she had caught the flu, Diana Zavala dragged herself in to work anyway for a day she felt she couldn't afford to miss. A school speech therapist who works as an independent contractor, she doesn't have paid sick days. So the mother of two reported to work and hoped for the best — and was aching, shivering and coughing by the end of the day. She stayed home the next day, then loaded up on medicine and returned to work. "It's a balancing act" between physical health and financial well-being, she said. An unusually early and vigorous flu season is drawing attention to a cause that has scored victories but also hit roadblocks in recent years: mandatory paid sick leave for a third of civilian workers — more than 40 million people — who don't have it...Read more »

Survey: Large gaps seen in health perceptions vs. reality

A new survey from Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company indicates that many American workers and their families — even those who know what it takes to get and stay healthy — have inaccurate perceptions about their own weight, condition and the cost of their health care. The survey results, released this month by Aon Hewitt, further indicate satisfaction and claims of positive behavior changes associated with participation in consumer-driven health plans. More than 2,800 employees and their dependents covered by employer-sponsored health plans were surveyed about their thoughts, attitudes and behaviors toward health and wellness. Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported being in good health, yet more than half of those (53%) gave height and weight combinations that categorize them as having a body mass index in the overweight or obese categories. Only 23% of all respondents believe they are actually overweight or obese, when in reality that number is 34%...Read more »

Help for the Deskbound

One of the problems with office work is that many of us are using chairs that don’t fit our bodies very well or give adequate support to the back, said Jack Dennerlein, a professor at Northeastern’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences in Boston who specializes in ergonomics and safety. If you are experiencing back pain, you may be able to adjust your chair to increase its lumbar support. A good office chair will have an adjustable seat pan that you can slide back and forth as well as adjustable back and height features. First, sit in the chair so the lumbar region of your back, your lower back, is resting on the back support. At the same time, your feet should be resting comfortably on the ground and the back of your knees should be about three-finger widths from the edge of the chair, said Dr. Dennerlein...Read more »

CDC: ‘Spot shortages’ of flu vaccine reported as disease spreads to 47 states

It's not too late to get vaccinated against this season's particularly nasty flu outbreak, but you may have some trouble finding a flu shot. On a call Friday to update reporters on the status of the outbreak, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said that a high demand for the flu vaccine has created some "spot shortages" of the flu shot as people flood pharmacies and doctors' offices to get immunized. There have also been reports of shortages of the pediatric formulation of Tamiflu, which is used to treat children who have come down with the bug. Flu season started more than a month early this year and is now widespread in 47 states, with 24 of those states and New York City reporting very high levels of disease. In some areas, the flu is mixing with a nasty stomach bug and an unusual outbreak of whooping cough. At least one hospital in Pennsylvania has erected a special flu tent to treat the high number of patients flooding their offices, and the city of Boston has declared a state of emergency because of the high number of cases. On Thursday in flu-ridden New York City, one Duane Reade pharmacy in Times Square was out of vaccines altogether, turning away several people who asked for the shot. A pharmacist at a nearby Walgreens said the store ran out of vaccines a week earlier, but purchased more from a store in Queens and was vaccinating dozens of people each day...Read more »

The 2013 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®

Last year, we asked companies applying for the 100 Best Companies to Work For® list to name their top three priorities for 2013. While our list publication ordinarily reflects on what the Best Companies achieved over the past year, this year, we focus on where these forward-thinking, culture conscious companies are headed. Whether a Best Company or not, these focus areas resonate broadly. Focus: Employee Wellness Over the past several years, the Employee Wellness Program has become the new standard at Best Companies, and more broadly with list applicant companies as well. The reasons for this are obvious: rising insurance rates and cost of care, colluding with increased incidents of chronic disease and an aging workforce, necessitate measures for preserving employee well-being and containing expenses...Read more »

Poll: Few Americans know all the risks of obesity

Heart disease and diabetes get all the attention, but what about the many other ways obesity can damage your health? Carrying too many pounds may lead to or worsen some types of cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea, even infertility. But a new poll suggests few Americans realize the links. Only about one-quarter of people think it's possible for someone to be very overweight and still healthy, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Ask about the most serious consequences, and more than 7 in 10 Americans can correctly tick off heart disease and diabetes. Heart disease is the nation's leading killer, and diabetes and obesity are twin epidemics, as rates of both have climbed in recent years. The other consequences aren't so well known. "People are often shocked to hear how far-reaching the effects of obesity are," said Jennifer Dimitriou, a bariatric dietitian at New York's Montefiore Medical Center. Only 7 percent of people surveyed mentioned cancer, although doctors long have known that fat increases the risk of developing cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, uterus and certain other sites. Plus, being overweight can make it harder to spot tumors early and to treat them...Read more »

Good and Bad, the Little Things Add Up in Fitness

The past year in fitness has been alternately inspiring, vexing and diverting, as my revisiting of all of the Phys Ed columns published in 2012 makes clear. Taken as a whole, the latest exercise-related science tells us that the right types and amounts of exercise will almost certainly lengthen your life, strengthen your brain, affect your waistline and even clear debris from inside your body’s cells. But too much exercise, other 2012 science intimates, might have undesirable effects on your heart, while popping painkillers, donning stilettos and sitting and reading this column likewise have their costs. With New Year’s exercise resolutions still fresh and hopefully unbroken on this, day two of 2013, it now seems like the perfect time to review these and other lessons of the past year in fitness science. First, since I am habitually both overscheduled and indolent, I was delighted to report, as I did in June, that the “sweet spot” for health benefits seems to come from jogging or moderately working out for only a brief period a few times a week...Read more »

Too Young to Have a Heart Attack

The foreshadowing escaped me: The night before we left for our summer vacation in Michigan, I accidentally stepped on my Kindle — which, like my heart, I cannot live without — and broke it. Reduced to reading novels on my iPhone, I made the best of it several days later, sitting in a sunroom overlooking Eight Point Lake, where my family gathers each year with friends. The day before, proving to my teenage sons that 48 isn’t too old for fun, I had hung on for dear life as I zoomed behind a speedboat on a ski tube. The next day, I was enjoying a few moments of solitude in those blissful minutes before the sun goes down, finger-swiping to turn the page of my novel on my phone’s tiny screen, when my left arm started hurting. You know that childhood feeling when your mother is mad at you, grabs your arm and squeezes it as she drags you away from whatever grief you’ve been causing? It felt like that, times 10, from shoulder to wrist. My chest got slightly uncomfortable, and I started sweating profusely. For the next four or five minutes, I kept to myself. I was incredibly antsy — up, down, sitting, standing, leaning, lying; my arm and I simply couldn’t get comfortable...Read more »

B.M.I. Can Predict Health Risks

Researchers gathered data on B.M.I., body fat percentage, waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio on 12,294 men and women. Then the team calculated how well each measure predicted various elements of the metabolic syndrome — high blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose, reduced HDL (or “good”) cholesterol and raised LDL (“bad” cholesterol). The results were published online last month in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. B.M.I. and body fat percentage were the best predictors of raised blood pressure, while waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio were good predictors of elevated fasting glucose and reduced HDL cholesterol. Body fat percentage was a slightly better predictor of increased LDL...Read more »

Aerobic exercise may be best at burning fat, weight loss

Aerobic exercise -- which includes sweat-inducing activities like walking, running and swimming -- has been known to help people reach their target weight. However, resistance training, which includes weight lifting to build muscle mass, is normally more advised because it has the ability to raise a person's resting metabolic rate -- the amount of calories you burn while resting -- and improve glucose control. But, resistance training's effects on fat loss have not been proven. "Balancing time commitments against health benefits, our study suggests that aerobic exercise is the best option for reducing fat mass and body mass," Cris A. Slentz, a Duke exercise physiologist."It's not that resistance training isn't good for you; it's just not very good at burning fat."..Read more »

Obama to control most health exchanges as states opt out

More than half of the state exchanges to be created under the 2010 U.S. health care overhaul are expected to be run by the federal government, offering insurers and consumers uniform criteria in at least those areas. While a final tally on who will participate won’t come until the end of today, many states led by Republican governors have already said they won’t build their own insurance exchanges. That puts the onus on the Obama administration to successfully set up and maintain the marketplaces that are at the heart of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to expand medical coverage to as many as 30 million people. Six states with Democratic governors whose exchange plans were approved this week have split down the middle on whether they’ll force insurers to compete for access, based on pricing and products, or leave it open to all comers who meet minimal standards. U.S. health officials have said their exchanges will not force companies to compete...Read more »

5 Fast Ways to Walk Off the Weight This Winter

One of the things I love about The Digest Diet 21-day weight loss plan is its simple but incredibly effective exercise routine. You won’t be spending hours sweating at the gym or doing any kind of crazy weight-lifting program. Instead, we suggest a 12-minute (you read that right!) fat releasing weight loss circuit, coupled with fun, one-minute activity bursts, like dancing or a few quick jumping jacks—and a lot of walking. During the holidays it can be particularly tough to wedge in a stroll, but here are my five surefire strategies to squeeze in waist-slimming, calorie burning walks...Read more »

When Daily Stress Gets in the Way of Life

I was about to give an hourlong talk to hundreds of people when one of the organizers of the event asked, “Do you get nervous when you give speeches?” My response: Who, me? No. Of course not. But this was a half-truth. I am a bit of a worrier, and one thing that makes me anxious is getting ready for these events: fretting over whether I’ve prepared the right talk, packed the right clothes or forgotten anything important, like my glasses. Anxiety is a fact of life. I’ve yet to meet anyone, no matter how upbeat, who has escaped anxious moments, days, even weeks. Recently I succumbed when, rushed for time just before a Thanksgiving trip, I was told the tires on my car were too worn to be driven on safely and had to be replaced...Read more »

Unusually Early Flu Season Intensifies

This year's unusually early flu season is continuing to intensify, federal health officials say. The number of states now reporting widespread flu activity doubled to eight in the past week, according to the latest update from the CDC. Last week Alaska, Mississippi, New York and South Carolina were reporting widespread flu. Now, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island have joined the list. Aside from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, this is the earliest flu season since the 2003-2004 season. And that year turned out to be one of the worst, especially for kids.One big difference between this year and the 2003-2004 season is that so far the vaccine appears to be a very good match for the strains of flu that are circulating most widely. That's important because one of the reasons officials are concerned is that one of the strains is similar to the 2003-2004 strain that caused so much illness and so many deaths...Read more »

Experts say multiple methods and attempts help smokers quit for good

From the 20 cigarettes in a pack to the 45.3 million adults, the CDC says the 443,000 annual deaths all that puffing causes are preventable. Provant's director of health coaching and program development Amy McAllister, M.A., R.D., L.D.N, C.D.O.E. shares her knowledge about tobacco cessation. Smoking's addictive nature makes the habit notoriously hard to kick completely - according to CDC research, nicotine "may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol." A smoker's need for a support network in quitting is exactly why workplace smoking-cessation programs have such a good chance to be successful, as people spend most of their waking life in the office. McAllister says more companies are testing for tobacco and using both carrots and sticks, "incenting the tobacco program." One of Provant's clients implemented a $350 surcharge for employees who use tobacco, for example. "Participation rates are higher with an incentive program, there's no question about that," she says. "Everyone knows that they have to stop, but they are much more apt to participate when there is an incentive."..Read more »

Good health means more retirement money

One of the best things you can do for retirement is to keep yourself in good health. Medical bills will be a lot less, you'll take fewer trips to the emergency room, and most importantly, you'll feel better. It's not just the high costs of medical care that are problems. Medical problems restrict activities which we like to do. And they take a lot of time often leaving little time for better things to do. So there are very good reasons to take good care of ourselves. People who are in good health enjoy a much better lifestyle and are able to do a lot more. The principal ingredients to good health are eating right, exercising, and early treatment of health problems. We all know what these entail but have trouble following the discipline required...Read more »

Move It

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 60 percent of adults do not achieve the recommended amount of regular physical activity. In fact, 25 percent of all adults are not active at all. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that adults obtain at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity and muscle-strengthening exercises on at least 2 non-consecutive days per week. Further benefits, the report suggests, can be obtained by increasing the amount, intensity, and frequency of physical activity. However, as Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, explains “doing anything more than you were doing is very worthwhile." Some of the most cited reasons for not exercising include: lack of time, inconvenience, and lack of motivation. Why not overcome these mental barriers and start off the week on top by scheduling a mile-long walk with a family member or friend in the nice, crisp autumn air? Walking for just 22 minutes a day, 7 days a week will help you reach the weekly aerobic activity guidelines...Read more »

The Major Benefits Issue Abroad is the Same as in the U.S.:Mitigating Healthcare Costs

Governments around the world are reducing benefits under public health programs and increasingly shifting costs to employers and individuals in the private sector. Combine that trend with demographic shifts, more multinational companies competing for workers and evidence that the economy is slowly recovering, and the result is a new dynamic for employer-sponsored benefit programs worldwide. “What we are seeing around the world is the emergence of healthcare as a global issue,” says Chris Burns, CEO of Willis Global Employee Benefits. “There are some misconceptions in the U.S. marketplace about what is happening internationally. You’ll often hear that we are the only country in the world that has substantial employer-provided benefits. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The great majority of countries have employer-provided benefits. It’s true they look different from each other, but employer-provided benefits are thriving in a great number of countries.” Burns is not alone in seeing the trend...Read more »

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New rules proposed last week by the Department of Health & Human Services give employers greater flexibility to help employees quit smoking. The total incentive an employer can offer for tobacco cessation has jumped to 50% of the total cost of health coverage, up from 20%. “What they’ve done is very positive from an employer vantage point,” says Amy Bergner, managing director, PricewaterhouseCoopers human resource solutions health care practice. “It gives this higher amount and greater latitude to design a tobacco [cessation] program.” The wellness program proposed rules do two things: confirm previous rules that apply to group health plans that offer wellness programs with financial incentives and implement new provisions outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The new provisions allow greater latitude in the amount of financial incentives employers can offer employees and family members who participate in certain types of wellness programs. The proposed rules dub wellness programs that require people to meet a particular standard (for example, a certain body mass index or blood pressure level) to get the financial reward “health contingent wellness programs.”..Read more »

Mini-relaxations to Ease Holiday Stress

With Black Friday upon us, the holiday season is now officially underway. Although the next month or so provides many opportunities to see family and friends, be generous, and spread good cheers, it can also be a difficult time. In a stressed-out heartbeat, the holiday season can morph into the hell-iday season. Deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization can evoke a state of rest and release. Doing them can slow your heartbeat, calm your breathing, lower your blood pressure, and help you chill out. You can’t necessarily eliminate the seasonal stressors. But you can counter them using the mini-relaxation exercises described below, adapted from Stress Management, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. When you’ve got 1 minute: Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in slowly. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation...Read more »

Administration Lays Down Rules For Future Health Insurance

You've got questions about the health law? The Obama administration has some answers. Finally. Now that the Supreme Court has found the Affordable Care Act constitutional and the president's re-election made clear that big chunks of the law will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, the administration is finally releasing rules of the road that states and insurance companies have been clamoring for. The big one makes clear how companies will have to comply with anti-discrimination requirements starting in 2014. The law requires that health insurance be made available to everyone regardless of health status and that people with pre-existing conditions not be charged higher premiums...Read more »

Updating the Message to Get Americans Moving

Rod Dishman, director of the psychology laboratory at the University of Georgia, is annoyed when students enroll in one of the fitness classes offered at his university. Because it’s a class in walking. “It is a sin for a healthy, capable young adult to enroll in a walking class,” he said. “It is obscene. What they are getting credit for is avoiding making any effort.” And therein lies a problem, Dr. Dishman and other researchers say. The public health message about exercise is that any amount is good and that walking is just fine. Everyone has been told, repeatedly, that regular exercise improves health and makes people feel better, happier, more energetic. Nearly all Americans say they have heard those messages. They know that exercise is good for them and that they should do it. Yet they do not...Read more »

State Decisions For Creating Health Insurance Exchanges in 2014

Coverage through the exchanges will begin in every state on January 1, 2014, with enrollment beginning October 1, 2013. States can elect to build a fully state-based exchange, enter into a state-federal partnership exchange, or default into a federally-facilitated exchange. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish and operate a federally-facilitated exchange in any state that is not able or willing to establish a state-based exchange. In a federally-facilitated exchange, HHS will perform all exchange functions. States entering into a state-federal partnership exchange may administer plan management functions, in-person consumer assistance functions, or both, and HHS will perform the remaining exchange functions...Read more »

Big rise in Americans with diabetes, especially in South

A breakdown of U.S. diabetes cases shows dramatic increases in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes overall between 1995 and 2010, with especially sharp increases among people in the South and in Appalachian states. According to a study released on Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of diagnosed cases of diabetes grew by 50 percent or more in 42 U.S. states, and by 100 percent or more in 18 states. In 2010, 18.8 million Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes and another 7 million had undetected diabetes, according to the CDC. States with the largest increases over the 16-year period were Oklahoma, up 226 percent; Kentucky, up 158 percent; Georgia, up 145 percent; Alabama, up 140 percent, Washington, up 135 percent, and West Virginia, up 131 percent, according to the study published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report...Read more »

Survey: Health care inflation hits 15-year low

Expansion of consumer-directed health plans and investment in health management programs produced the lowest average annual employer cost increase since 1997, according to the National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, conducted annually by Mercer. Growth in the average total health benefit cost per employee slowed from 6.1% last year to just 4.1% in 2012. Cost averaged $10,558 per employee in 2012. Large employers – those with 500 or more employees – experienced both a higher increase (5.4%) and higher average cost. Employers expect another relatively low increase of 5.0% for 2013. However, this increase reflects changes they plan to make to reduce cost; if they made no changes, cost would rise by an average of 7.4%. Mercer’s nationally projectable annual survey includes public and private organizations with 10 or more employees; 2,809 employers responded in 2012. Workforce health management, or “wellness”, has emerged as employers’ top long-term strategy for controlling health spending. Over three-fourths of large employers (78%) say that senior leadership is supportive or very supportive of health management programs as a means of encouraging more health-conscious behavior...Read more »

Worksite Wellness Efforts Extend Beyond Type 2 Diabetes

Approximately one in four employees at organizations across America are unknowingly “pre-diabetic,” an asymptomatic condition that can progress to Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that 79 million Americans ages 20 and older share this condition of elevated blood glucose levels that fall just short of a full diagnosis, according to the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While extra weight and inactivity can increase the risk of pre-diabetes, family genes, age, ethnicity and even sleep patterns also contribute. “This year alone, we identified thousands of employees who are pre-diabetic, thanks to onsite biometric screening sponsored by their employers,” said Barbara Haydon, Vice President, Clinical Services at Provant Health Solutions (Provant). “The universal reaction is one of total surprise when we share and interpret the results with employees, who believe they are pretty healthy otherwise. Telling someone they are on the path toward Type 2 diabetes is a wake-up call but, thankfully, pre-diabetes can often be reversed.” Diabetes contributes nearly $200 billion in direct healthcare costs and lost productivity in the United States each year. Outward symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include fatigue, blurred vision, increased thirst and frequent urination, while high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and blindness. In 2007, the CDC reported that indirect costs of these symptoms and complications included absenteeism ($2.6 billion), reduced productivity while at work or “presenteeism” ($20 billion), unemployment from disease-related disability ($7.9 billion), and lost productive capacity due to early mortality ($26.9 billion). Many businesses are taking action to prevent and manage diabetes in the workplace through a combination of screenings, health coaching, workplace exercise challenges, nutrition workshops, and other measures. “We develop customized plans to help employees reduce their risk of diabetes or manage it,” added Haydon. “The first step begins with a health screening, which provides a timely measurement of blood glucose, blood pressure, blood lipids (cholesterol), body mass index, and even waist circumference, which recent studies have shown may be a better indicator of the risk of Type 2 diabetes.” Research shows that small steps can have big rewards – for both the employee and the employer. Current data from the American Diabetes Association found that diabetics who control their disease by keeping their blood sugar down cost employers only $24 a month, compared with $115 a month for those who don’t. About Provant Provant Health Solutions is a national, NCQA-accredited provider of customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Founded in 2001, Provant reduces employee health risks using proven and affordable wellness solutions, which are provided to large and small businesses throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Learn more at www.provanthealth.com...Read more »

Americans fighting fat, but odds stacked against them

If you look hard enough, there are signs that Americans are finally getting the message about how heavy and out-of-shape they are. Consumption of diet drinks is increasing, and the calories Americans consume from regular sodas are on the way down. More than half of Americans (55%) say they are trying to drop some weight, up significantly from 43% in 2011, according to a recent survey conducted for the International Food Information Council Foundation. But while the concern about obesity may have hit the national consciousness, it hasn't really shown up on the bathroom scale for most Americans yet. The reality is that the nation is now entering a fourth decade of weight gain. The obesity rate — those who are 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight — stayed fairly level at 15% from 1960 to 1980. Since then it climbed to 36% in 2010, an all-time high. If it continues to grow, about 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, according to a projection from researchers with RTI International, a non-profit organization in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park...Read more »

Study finds exercise adds to life expectancy, even for obese

So, what's it worth to lace up those sneakers and break a sweat for about 30 minutes a day? About 3.5 extra years of life, on average — and about 4.2 additional years for those willing to step up the intensity or put in closer to an hour a day of brisk walking or its equivalent, according to a new study. Even for the severely obese — those with a body mass index above 35 — exercising for about 2.5 hours a week at moderate intensity or for 75 minutes at vigorous levels puts average life expectancy a notch above that of a normal-weight person who is sedentary, the research shows. It's no surprise that exercise is good for you and will help you live longer. But the study published Tuesday by the journal PLoS Medicine sounds a loud wake-up call to "healthy weight" couch potatoes who believe their good BMIs will ensure them a long life...Read more »

Study says heart attacks cost employers $52K in productivity per long-term claim

Heart attacks and chest pain suffered by workers can also be agonizing for employers who are hit with productivity losses of as much as $52,473 per disability claim. A study presented Monday at the American Heart Association meeting in Los Angeles found that for every short-term disability claim filed due to acute coronary syndrome, the cost to employers was about $7,943 in lost productivity. Each long-term disability claim cost employers about $52,473. Acute coronary syndrome, where blood supplied to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked, costs Americans about $150 billion each year and about 47% of those with the condition are working adults under age 65, says lead study author Robert Page. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States., and employers should help workers reduce their risk with wellness programs for blood pressure, diet, exercise and blood sugar, Page added...Read more »

Smoke-free Monday

Smoking is the leading preventable killer in the United States and accounts for 1 of every 5 deaths, according to the CDC. Smoking increases your risk for heart and vascular disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, hip fractures and cataracts. It also increases the risk for cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. New evidence suggests smoking may contribute to the risk for breast cancer. . Quitting now can lead to a substantially longer and healthier life. No matter how long you’ve been smoking or how old you are, it's always the healthiest choice to quit. However, quitting smoking can be one of the hardest things many people ever do. The worst withdrawal symptoms occur in the first few weeks after quitting. Once you get through that period, it will get easier. Here are some tips to ease your cessation process:..Read more »

5 Reasons Your Weight Lifting Routine Isn’t Working

ou go to the gym. You lift weights. But so far your muscles aren’t looking any more sculpted than when you started. If you’ve been putting in the work but not seeing results, it’s likely that something is wrong with your workout—not your willpower. Avoid 5 common strength training mistakes with these tips from weight lifting guru Wayne Westcott, PhD, Prevention advisory board member and director of fitness research at Quincy College in Massachusetts, and you’ll be a lot closer to achieving that lean, strong body you’re after. Mistake #1: You’re ditching the warm up. While it’s tempting to forgo a proper warm up, taking a few minutes for a quick walk or jog on the treadmill will help you get more out of your strength training routine. “A warm up increases the temperature of your muscles and tendons, making them more elastic so you’re less likely to injure yourself,” says Westcott. Besides, you’ll burn a few extra calories too!..Read more »

Four Food Myths – Exposed

Are you avoiding certain foods because of health concerns? There are some common myths about which foods are healthy for us, especially if we have high cholesterol and/or diabetes. Read on to find out which foods deserve to be back on your plate and what you should avoid. Myth #1: Never eat shrimp if you have high cholesterol – Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program allow 200 milligrams of cholesterol daily. While three ounces of shrimp has 166 milligrams of cholesterol, the TLC guidelines do recommend having shrimp occasionally. Shrimp is very low in saturated fat, even lower than white chicken without the skin...Read more »

Exercise May Protect Against Brain Shrinkage

Remaining physically active as you age, a new study shows, may help protect parts of your brain from shrinking, a process that has been linked to declines in thinking and memory skills. Physical exercise not only protected against such age-related brain changes, but also had more of an effect than mentally and socially stimulating activities. In the new report, published in the journal Neurology, a team at the University of Edinburgh followed more than 600 people, starting at age 70. The subjects provided details on their daily physical, mental and social activities. Three years later, using imaging scans, the scientists found that the subjects who engaged in the most physical exercise, including walking several times a week, had less shrinkage and damage in the brain’s white matter, which is considered the “wiring” of the brain’s communication system. The relationship remained even after the researchers controlled for things like age, health status, social class and I.Q...Read more »

Little Sign Employers Shedding Health Coverage Ahead Of Obamacare

Amid the intense political debate over whether the Affordable Care Act will be an undue burden on business, a new study of small, mid-sized and large employers shows “there is little indication that employers plan to drop health care coverage.”The study comes from the Midwest Business Group on Health, which represents scores of national employers like Boeing (BA), Ford Motor Company (F) and Caterpillar (CAT). The online survey, which was conducted this summer and released Tuesday, had more than 110 respondents that ranged in size from companies with more than 5,000 employees, to mid-size companies with 1,001 to 5,000 workers and smaller companies with fewer than 1,000 workers. The group would not disclose names of actual company respondents but said they have workers across the country from employers based in 16 states. “Employers still believe that health benefits are vital to attract talented employees and maintain a productive workforce,” said Scott Thompson, president of the healthcare practice of The Benfield Group, a market research and strategy firm that collaborated with the Midwest Business Group on the study. “This research found that most employers, especially those with more than 200 employees, will not drop employee benefit coverage in the foreseeable future.”..Read more »

Flu Vaccine Effective Against 4 Strains, Study Finds

Vaccines that protect against four strains of flu proved just as effective in clinical trials as traditional ones that protect against three, two vaccine companies announced Monday. The new mixtures protect against two different B strains, scientists from Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals said at a medical meeting in San Diego The B strains are rarer and usually arrive later in the season than the A strains, like A(H1N1), but they cause more hospitalizations and deaths. Until 1978, flu vaccines contained only one A and one B strain; a second A was added to fight A(H3N2), which had first emerged as the 1968 Hong Kong Flu. Two distinct B strains, known as Victoria and Yamagata, have existed since 2002, but it has been hard to predict a dominant one each year. The new quadrivalent vaccines, which are being evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not approved for the public, are meant to lower that uncertainty...Read more »

Get Up. Get Out. Don’t Sit

Just as we were all settling in front of the television to watch the baseball playoffs, two new studies about the perils of sitting have spoiled our viewing pleasure. The research, published in separate medical journals this month, adds to a growing scientific consensus that the more time someone spends sitting, especially in front of the television, the shorter and less robust his or her life may be...Read more »

Smart Benefits: Is Employer-Sponsored Wellness Here To Stay?

According to the 2012 United Benefit Advisors survey, an increasing number of employers are offering workplace wellness programs. But will that hold true as the number of employers who offer health insurance decreases? Exchanges Expected to Reduce Employer-Sponsored Coverage After the state Health Benefit Exchanges kick off in 2014, Deloitte expects one in ten employers to drop health insurance coverage for their employees, while McKinsey predicts 30% of employers will definitely or probably drop coverage. The reason? Employers, trying to hold down costs, seem willing to accept the less costly fines for non-compliance than continue to fund their share of the coverage. “Employers have embraced the idea of inviting their team to the table as financial and/or health partners in their organizational healthcare affordability agenda,” says Heather Provino, CEO of Provant Health Solutions, a national leader in workplace health promotion. Wellness Poised to Remain Well with Employers… So will employers still offer wellness programs to their employees even if they don’t offer health insurance coverage? To date, the answer appears to be yes. Wellness Poised to Remain Well with Employers… Wellness programs often save employers money by improving employee health. Employee health is critical to an employer’s fiscal health. The results of a new employer study by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) reveals that employers lose $576 billion a year because of employee poor health from lost productivity, absenteeism, increased workers compensation costs, disability payments, turnover and more. …And Employees... While it’s clearly in an employer’s best interest to keep employees healthy – and working – wellness programs appeal to employees for an entirely different set of reasons. • Wellness programs provide a support system with built-in social benefits that may not be available at home. • Prospective employees who previously took part in wellness are looking for the same benefit from future employers. • Self-preservation is hot, no matter the worker’s age. People want to take better care of themselves, and if employers make it easier to do so, even better. And with healthcare reform supporting wellness expansion – increasing incentives from 20% to 30%, and possibly even higher, starting in 2012 – greater participation and behavior change is expected from the financial rewards. The Market’s Responding The PPACA legislation is paving the way for employers to have more flexibility with their wellness program. And the market is expanding with a range of new options. Insurance carriers are quickly introducing new products with wellness incentives, value-based plan designs and premium reductions that reward employees for participation and/or achieving standards – mirroring wellness programs offered by third party vendors. With wellness a $500 billion industry, it’s no wonder everyone wants a piece of it. “Wellness is going to go through a transition and become a core benefit that the workforce considers part of their compensation package. It will be important for retention, recruitment and the global competitiveness of the organization as a whole.”..Read more »

The cost of getting the flu: By the numbers

Flu season is underway, and with it comes all the sniffling, lethargy, muddled thinking, pain, and missed work days symptomatic of the most contagious time of the year. All those sick hours add up, and the intrusive virus has both health and "financial repercussions," says Aaron Levitt at Investopedia. Here, a look at the economics of influenza: 5 to 20 Percentage of U.S. residents who get the flu every year 200,000 People hospitalized from flu-related complications each year 150 million Doses of this year's flu vaccine produced in the U.S. $35 Average cost of a flu shot $87.1 billion Annual loss to the U.S. economy due to influenza and its repercussions $16.3 billion Annual toll on businesses due to influenza. "In a shaky economy, that could mean the difference between being employed and applying for welfare," says Levitt. 70 million Workdays missed by Americans last year due to the flu $130 Average cost that an insured American can expect to pay fighting the flu More than $100 Cost of seeing a physician without insurance..Read more »

Common Behaviors Contribute to the Number One Killer and Billions in Increased Health Care Costs

Each fall, across the country, people gather for the American Heart Walk, which raises tens of millions of dollars to combat the number one killer of Americans: cardiovascular disease. However, Americans need to remember that heart disease is a battle fought every day, not once a year, and it extends from our homes into the workplace. Presently, the top unhealthy behaviors exhibited by Americans include unhealthy eating, little to no exercise, smoking, and the over-consumption of alcohol – all of which contribute to heart disease. Overall, unhealthy behaviors cost businesses an average of $670 per employee each year, according to a recent calculation by Thomson Reuters. “Worksite wellness is truly the battle against unhealthy behaviors that cause heart disease,” said Provant Health Solutions (Provant) CEO Heather Provino, who is chairman of the board of the American Heart Association’s Rhode Island chapter. “Fortunately, businesses with worksite wellness offerings have made great progress toward decreasing the incidence of workers with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and other conditions that contribute to heart disease. Workers are getting healthier and businesses are starting to see a slowing in the annual rise of health care costs.” The cost of heart disease is staggering. Cardiovascular disease costs the country $300 billion a year in direct medical tests alone. Treatment accounts for $1 in every $6 spent on healthcare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Provino specifically credits the following as contributors to the success of today’s worksite wellness initiatives: - Robust incentive programs (first and foremost) that are tied to premiums - Consistent (annual) biometric screenings and/or health risk assessments - Health coaching - Disease, condition and lifestyle management services (addressing heart disease, hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, nutrition and more) - Integration of wellness with other health benefit offerings. “To truly ‘move the dial’ and address employee heart disease and other related health conditions, businesses need to implement a wellness program that utilizes all of these elements,” added Provino. “It is a long-term investment that is just beginning to pay long-term dividends for employers (and their workers) throughout the country.” About Provant Provant Health Solutions is a national, NCQA-accredited provider of customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Founded in 2001, Provant reduces employee health risks using proven and affordable wellness solutions, which are provided to large and small businesses throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Learn more at www.provanthealth.com...Read more »

Wellness programs slow health care costs, reduce claims

Public sector wellness programs not only improve employee health, but also reduce claims – particularly for small businesses, according to a recent study. Robert L. Clark and Melinda Sandler Morrill from North Carolina State University authored the issue brief from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, The Business Case for Wellness Programs in Public Employee Health Plans. According to the brief, evidence indicates wellness programs improve employee health and slow health care costs. The programs also have a positive affect on bottom lines. The brief’s authors suggest the growth in wellness programs could be a factor in the recent slow down in health insurance expenditures...Read more »

How Diabetes Affects Vision

Both of the common types of diabetes, Type 1 (which usually begins in childhood) and Type 2 (which usually begins in adulthood), can affect vision in several ways. After 20 years of having Type 2 diabetes, most people have eye problems. But the risk can be reduced. The most serious eye problem resulting from the uncontrolled high blood sugar levels that can occur with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. It can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar damages small blood vessels in the retina. (The retina is the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye that sends images to the brain.) The damaged vessels leak fluid and blood into the retina. They also can close entirely, robbing the retina of its blood supply. When your doctor looks inside your eyes, he or she looks for the telltale marks and scars that diabetic retinopathy leaves on the retina. If the fluid or blood leaks near the macula — the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision — sight becomes impaired...Read more »

HRA? More like HR-Yay!

o, I’m back from a three-month maternity leave, which brings on a slew of mixed emotions: happy to be back spending a good chunk of time among adults; sad to be missing my baby. Happy to be back editing again and writing to all of you; sad to be missing my baby. You get the picture. I’ve been through a lot of changes over the last three months. I’m now a mother of three, which has equaled less free time, less money and less sleep than I’d grown used to. It meant creating a whole new schedule, personally and professionally. And it’s also brought new health insurance. Let me tell you: I do not have mixed emotions about switching health plans. I am all in, 100% happy with the change...Read more »

What are the Short-Term Benefits of Quitting Smoking

According to Dr. JoAnne Foody, Director of Cardiovascular Wellness at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, MA, your health risks start decreasing quickly after you stop smoking, and they continue dropping over time. You’ll see big benefits after you quit, no matter how long you’ve been smoking – even if you’ve already developed some smoking-related problems. Look at the health improvements you can expect within the first year: 20 minutes after quitting: Your blood pressure and heart rate will drop. 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood will return to normal. 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation and lung function will improve. 1 to 9 months after quitting: You’ll cough less and you’ll have less shortness of breath. Your lungs will be more able to handle mucus, clean themselves, and reduce your risk of infection. 1 year after quitting: Your excess risk of heart disease will be half that of a smoker. And the benefits don’t stop there! Within several years your stroke and heart disease risk can equal that of a non-smoker’s and your risk of cancer will be dramatically reduced as well. 20 minutes after quitting: Your blood pressure and heart rate will drop. 12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood will return to normal. 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation and lung function will improve. 1 to 9 months after quitting: You’ll cough less and you’ll have less shortness of breath. Your lungs will be more able to handle mucus, clean themselves, and reduce your risk of infection. 1 year after quitting: Your excess risk of heart disease will be half that of a smoker. And the benefits don’t stop there! Within several years your stroke and heart disease risk can equal that of a non-smoker’s and your risk of cancer will be dramatically reduced as well. You’ll also see immediate benefits in your everyday life:..Read more »

Getting Blood Pressure Under Control

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, both of which are leading causes of death in the US. Nearly one-third of all American adults have high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control.* Many with uncontrolled high blood pressure don’t know they have it. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, both of which are leading causes of death in the US. Nearly one-third of all American adults have high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control.* Many with uncontrolled high blood pressure don’t know they have it. Millions are taking blood pressure medicines, but their blood pressure is still not under control. There are many missed opportunities for people with high blood pressure to gain control. Doctors, nurses and others in health care systems should identify and treat high blood pressure at every visit...Read more »

September Turns Attention to Cholesterol Awareness, Prevention

For many people, September marks the end of summer vacations and sending the kids back to school. For employers, September often signals the start of annual biometric health screenings for workers. High cholesterol is a health risk that can be identified, along with several other risks, through regular health screenings...Read more »

Health Coaching, Screenings Help Reduce Obesity in Workforce

Executives of Provant Health Solutions tell Employee Benefit News that successfully reducing obesity in the workplace requires awareness through regular biometric screenings; proper intervention through telephonic or on-site health coaching; and the integration of wellness with existing health benefits. “Our goal is to drive an increase in whatever [health benefits] are available,” said Amy McAllister, director of health coaching at Provant. “It’s amazing how many employees are unaware of what’s out there.”..Read more »

Smokers may have more sleep problems: study

Researchers whose work appeared in the journal Addiction Biology found that of nearly 1,100 smokers surveyed, 17 percent got fewer than six hours of sleep each night and 28 percent reported "disturbed" sleep quality. That compared with rates of seven percent and 19 percent respectively among more than 1,200 non-smokers who were also surveyed, said lead researcher Stefan Cohrs, of Charite Berlin medical school in Germany. "This study demonstrates for the first time an elevated prevalence of sleep disturbance in smokers compared with non-smokers in a population without lifetime history of psychiatric disorders even after controlling for potentially relevant risk factors," Cohrs and his colleagues wrote...Read more »

Obesity epidemic an opportunity to improve Americans’ wellbeing

Over half of all American adults are either overweight or obese, a startling figure that will increase if employers don’t offer comprehensive wellness programs to their employees and families, as well as partner with local communities to effect real change, a leading health advocate warned benefits professionals gathered at the Benefits Forum & Expo in Phoenix on Monday. “I honestly believe that the obesity crisis is an amazing opportunity for our country,” said Dr. Gail Christopher, DN, vice president of program strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Christopher quoted an old African proverb to benefits professionals: “To stumble is not to fall, but to move forward faster.” “I believe we have stumbled our way to an opportunity to move forward faster in terms of the wellness of our nation,” she advocated. Employers can do their part by furthering comprehensive wellness programs that can yield an investment as high as 6:1, according to a study by Leonard L. Berry of Texas A&M University...Read more »

Summary of Benefits and Coverage could wreak communication havoc

I was sitting in a meeting talking about the upcoming healthcare reform requirements and it was time to present the Summary of Benefits and Coverage document, which will need to be distributed in the next few months. As part of my show-and-tell, I passed around the sample SBC that the Department of Labor posted on its website. The first reaction was, “This looks like the information you receive with a credit card approval letter [that no one reads].” As the ever-professional, I simply said, “yes, it’s pretty detailed” but on the inside I was saying something more like, “wasn’t the intent of this to make the communication of medical insurance coverage easier?” I’ll leave the judging to you but just a few comments about the SBC (or what the federal government refers to as the “easy-to-understand summary about a health plan’s benefits and coverage.”)..Read more »

More Choice, and More Confusion, in Quest for Healthy Eating

he chicken, perhaps, summed it up best. A package of fryer parts from Tyson, the world’s largest poultry producer, sat next to a foam tray of organic chicken legs. The conventional food was for her boyfriend, the more natural ingredients for her. “We’re not 100 percent organic, obviously, but I try to be,” she said. “He doesn’t care, so I’m trying to maintain happiness in the relationship.” Like many people who are seeking better-tasting, healthier food, Ms. Todd had heard about a recent study on organic food from Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy. Based on data from 237 previously conducted studies, the Stanford report concluded that when it comes to certain nutrients, there is not much difference between organic and conventionally grown food. Lisa Todd’s grocery cart reflects the ambivalence of many American shoppers. Ms. Todd, 31, prowled the aisles of a busy Kroger store here last week. Her cart was a tumble of contradictions: organic cabbage and jar of Skippy peanut butter. A bag of kale and a four-pack of inexpensive white wine. Pineapples for juicing and processed deli meat. But it also found that organic foods have 31 percent lower levels of pesticides, fewer food-borne pathogens and more phenols, a substance believed to help fight cancer...Read more »

The Benefits of Middle Age Fitness

Americans are living longer, with our average life expectancy now surpassing 78 years, up from less than 74 years in 1980. But we are not necessarily living better. The incidence of a variety of chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, has also been growing dramatically, particularly among people who are not yet elderly The convergence of those two developments has led to what some researchers have identified as a “lengthening of morbidity.” That means we are spending more years living with chronic disease and ill health — not the outcome that most of us would hope for from a prolonged life span. But a notable new study published last week in Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that a little advance planning could change that prospect. Being or becoming fit in middle age, the study found, even if you haven’t previously bothered with exercise, appears to reshape the landscape of aging...Read more »

High Blood Pressure: Often Recognized, But Still Poorly Controlled

After decades of encouragement, Americans are getting their blood pressure checked more often. And there's a little more good news, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most adults with high blood pressure are being treated these days. But, and you knew there had to be a but, more than half of all Americans with hypertension — about 36 million people, all told — still haven't got it under control. And the large number of people whose blood pressure remains at 140/90, the starting point for hypertension, or above spells trouble. High blood pressure quadruples the risk of a death from stroke and triples it for heart disease. So the CDC is pushing for more action...Read more »

Boomer Women Prove They Can Dine Out And Still Lose Weight

When women go on a diet, we tend to avoid our favorite restaurants because they are filled with temptations — bread, booze and desserts. But are we doomed to sit in our kitchens eating salad alone while everyone else is headed out on the town if we want to keep the weight off? Take heart, ladies. A new study of women in their 50s and early 60s finds they could eat out and still succeed at long-term weight loss. "What was really surprising was that eating at restaurants did not predict long-term weight change," lead researcher Bethany Barone Gibbs of the University of Pittsburgh tells us...Read more »

Experts encourage using work breaks for fitness

With the three-martini lunch gone the way of the typewriter, office workers are free to discover the healthier perks of midday movement. An active lunchtime can range from the sweaty to the serene, experts say, from a full-out cardio blast to a walk in the park. “People who want to get in a good workout over lunch hour can do simple things like go for a walk,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise. “Think about it. Thirty minutes on a regular basis would meet the minimum threshold for physical activity,” he added. U.S. government guidelines state that adults 18 and older need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy. For an intense workout on a rainy day, Bryant suggests finding a quiet stairwell and performing a series of lunges, dips, push-ups, alternating quick and slow climbs, or taking the stairs two at a time. “You can do a mix of cardio, interval and resistance training using the stairs,” he explained. How intense should your midday workout be? For many, perspiration is the dividing line. “Sweating is a huge obstacle for most people,” said Bryant, “but just sitting at the computer compromises posture and has health consequences.” Dr. Nicolaas Pronk, an expert on workplace wellness with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), said often workers' lunch time is more limited than 30 minutes. He recommends workers first focus on reducing prolonged periods of sitting with 10-minute breaks throughout the day. “Sometimes these are called instant recess or booster breaks,” said Pronk, vice president of Health Partners Research Foundation in Bloomington, Minnesota. Changes in office design, such as sit-stand desks, could help workers without altering the work flow, as well as using stairs...Read more »

Employer-Sponsored On-Site Flu Clinics Offer Significant Savings

The workplace is one of the primary settings for the spread of the flu in the U.S. Nearly 80 percent of workers who contracted the flu in 2011 reported that they went to work at some point while sick, according to a national survey. For businesses, it’s clear that the best defense against the impact of seasonal influenza is a good offense – with the hosting of onsite flu clinics or offsite vaccination options to promote worker immunization. Employers can save between $63 and $95 for every worker that is immunized prior to December, according to historic influenza data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Labor. “Businesses may get discouraged with hosting onsite flu clinics if they believe they’ve hit a ceiling of 30 percent worker participation year after year, which is the industry average,” said Barbara Haydon, vice president of clinical services for Provant Health Solutions (Provant). “However they should know that they can reach a higher participation rate through a combination of measures that improve awareness, motivation and accessibility.” Provant’s flexible flu immunization delivery options, skilled clinical and scheduling staff, and communications tactics resulted in a 2011-2012 average participation rate of nearly double the national average, and in some cases, nearly 100 percent. More than 82,000 employees received flu shots through Provant’s seasonal flu program. Learn about the best flu immunization program for your company by calling Provant at 1.877.346.6696 or request information by completing this form. (Barb, this will link to a form on our website.) About Provant Provant Health Solutions is a national, NCQA-accredited provider of customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Founded in 2001, Provant reduces employee health risks using proven and affordable wellness solutions, which are provided to large and small businesses throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Learn more at www.provanthealth.com...Read more »

Bending health cost curve tied to wellness communication

Employers counting on wellness programs to bend the benefits cost curve must include strong communication plans in their strategy if they hope to achieve their goals or risk wasting their investment in a sluggish economy. That’s one of the key findings in a new white paper released by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. “Well on the Way: Engaging Employees in Workplace Wellness” uses proprietary and industry research, as well as case studies, to show how wellness initiatives can help employers control ever-higher health care and benefits costs, and the vital role of benefits communication in driving the effectiveness of these programs...Read more »

Getting Fit: Why More People Are Walking The Walk

More people are getting their exercise by walking, according to a new study by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The health benefits are clear: Walkers generally have a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. If walking is your form of exercise, why does it work for you?..Read more »

What Happens In Our Bodies When We Sleep?

The honest answer is that we don’t know why it is we sleep. We spend about a third of our lives doing it, so nature must have a reason for it. But it’s hard to ask nature questions — or, at least, to get an answer. One possible reason for sleep is obvious: Our muscles may need the rest. However, the heart is a muscle, and it doesn’t rest while we sleep, thank goodness. And like our heart, many of our other organs, such as the liver and kidneys, keep working...Read more »

More Americans Are Going for a Walk

The proportion of adults who said they went on a 10-minute walk at least once a week increased to 62 percent in 2010, from 56 percent in 2005, the CDC has reported. Federal guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (like running) each week. Walking increased across all races, ages and regions. The South showed the biggest increase in people who said they walked during the study period, to 57 percent from 49 percent in 2005. The Northeast showed the smallest increase, to 66 percent from 64 percent...Read more »

Use of Incentives Grows as U.S. Employers Look to Improve Workforce Health, Productivity

U.S. employers are increasingly relying on incentives to drive participation in health programs and encouraging employees and their families to take better care of themselves, according to a survey from Aon Hewitt. View full article The survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. employers representing more than 20 million U.S. employees and their dependents found that 84% now offer employees incentives for participating in a health risk questionnaire (HRQ), and 64% offer an incentive for participation in biometric screenings. 51% provide incentives to employees who participate in health improvement and wellness programs...Read more »

Serious News for Couch Potatoes

New Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) studies are bringing to light the serious health impact of a sedentary lifestyle. Physical inactivity leads to a shorter life expectancy and increased risks of many chronic diseases. In fact, it causes as many premature deaths worldwide as tobacco smoking or obesity. A recent study led by BWH epidemiologist Dr. I-Min Lee estimates that physical inactivity causes between six and ten percent of coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer cases worldwide. Inactivity also is responsible for some 5.3 million deaths worldwide each year – comparable to the 5 million deaths worldwide per year that are attributed to tobacco smoking or the 3 million deaths worldwide per year attributed to obesity. Physical inactivity was defined in the study as not getting the recommended amount of physical activity, which is 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g., 30 minute brisk walk, 5 times a week)...Read more »

Provant Client Selected by Businessweek to Showcase Use of Social Media in Wellness

Bloomberg Businessweek recently showcased the worksite wellness efforts of the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, which has partnered with Provant Health Solutions (Provant) since 2011. The City’s approach of tying social media platforms to its employee wellness efforts served as the story’s lead example of a growing practice among U.S. organizations. “The practice of using social media tools in wellness has grown more rapidly this year, now that employers have experienced some initial success first-hand or learned through industry case studies,” said Provant Chief Executive Officer Heather A. Provino. “The use of social media is an effective way to keep wellness efforts top-of-mind and employees engaged, if paired with the right strategy and the right online environment.” View the full article: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-19/wellness-games-encourage-a-fitter-workforce . About Provant Provant Health Solutions is a national, NCQA-accredited provider of customized worksite health and wellness strategies and services. Founded in 2001, Provant reduces employee health risks using proven and affordable wellness solutions, which are provided to large and small businesses throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Learn more at www.provanthealth.com. ###..Read more »

Wellness incentives: a carrot or stick?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) poses both a moral and business dilemma for worksite wellness programs, but a leading authority suggests that it can be overcome with careful thought and the right strategy in place. Don Powell president and CEO of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, will address the issue at the EBN-produced 25th annual Benefits Forum & Expo Sept. 9-11 in Phoenix. “The whole area of incentives, particularly financial ones, has become somewhat controversial in the wellness field,” he cautions. There’s evidence to suggest that cash awards, gift cards and free merchandise increase wellness program participation, but he says “it’s unclear whether such success can be sustained long term without intrinsic motivation taking hold.”..Read more »

Provant’s NCQA Accreditation in Wellness & Health Promotion Renewed

Provant Health Solutions LLC, an independent worksite health and wellness provider, is pleased to announce that its Accreditation in Wellness & Health Promotion With Performance Reporting has been renewed by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The recent three-year accreditation renewal followed Provant’s fourth voluntary audit since fall 2009. Provant further successfully completed NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) Compliance Standards audit. HEDIS® has been embraced by employers, consumer organizations, state and federal regulators, consultants and health plans as the performance measurement tool of choice. View full article “This achievement assures our clients and prospective clients of the validity of the outcome measures and reports we regularly provide them,” said Provant Health Solutions CEO & Founder Heather A. Provino. “Our continued accreditation demonstrates Provant’s commitment to adhere to best practice principles.” NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving and recognizing health care quality with a wide range of organizations across the country. The goal of NCQA’s accreditation in Wellness & Health Promotion With Performance Reporting is to help employers make informed decisions when choosing a wellness or health promotion vendor. The program provides businesses with a standardized set of measures, obtained through unbiased review, which will aid them in making side-by-side comparisons between wellness providers. In 2009, Provant became the first privately held wellness company in the nation to receive Wellness & Health Promotion accreditation from the NCQA with a score of 99.74 percent out of 100. Access to a copy of Provant’s “Report Card” is available. In addition, Provant was among the first to achieve Wellness & Health Promotion With Performance Reporting accreditation in the program’s inaugural year. The company then underwent its second successful performance reporting audit in July 2010 to achieve renewed accreditation. Wellness & Health Promotion With Performance Reporting accreditation assesses key areas of health promotion, including how wellness programs are implemented in the workplace, how services (i.e. health coaching) are provided to help participants develop skills to make healthy choices, and how individual health information is properly safeguarded. The 12 official areas evaluated are: •Employer and Plan Sponsor Engagement •Privacy and Confidentiality •Engaging the Population •Health Appraisal •Identification and Targeting •Self-Management Tools •Health Coaching •Rights and Responsibilities •Measuring Effectiveness •Delegation •Incentives Management •Reporting Wellness and Health Promotion Performance About Provant Health Solutions Provant Health Solutions is a national provider of worksite health and wellness strategies and services that reduces employee health risks. Founded in 2001, Provant provides proven and affordable wellness solutions to large and small businesses throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. About NCQA NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations and recognizes physicians in key clinical areas. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information through the Web, media and data licensing agreements in order to help consumers, employers and others make more informed health care choices. ###..Read more »

Wellness-Insurance Link Decried

Most employees don’t think they should be required to participate in wellness programs to qualify for employer-provided health insurance, according to a new survey released by the National Business Group on Health. Moreover, they don’t think employers should charge employees more for health coverage if they don’t meet specific health goals. Employees oppose the linking of their health plan to wellness program participation, with 62% opposing charging employees more for health coverage if they do not participate in wellness programs. Over 80% of employees favor offering a financial reward to employees who meet specific health goals but only 29% favor charging employees more for health coverage if they don’t meet health goals. Sixty-eight percent oppose requiring employees to participate in a wellness program in order to qualify for health insurance...Read more »

Health Tip: Is My Blood Glucose Too Low?

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a common complication of diabetes, and can occur even in people whose diabetes is well-managed. Although the condition isn't always preventable, the American Diabetes Association says diabetics and their loved ones should recognize the warning signs. The ADA offers this list of potential symptoms: - Feeling dizzy or shaking. - Sweating and having pale skin. - Developing a headache. - Feeling hungry. - Showing sudden changes in behavior. - Moving clumsily. - Having a seizure. - Feeling confused or having difficulty paying attention. - Feeling a "tingling" sensation around the mouth...Read more »

Home Health Stressful Jobs Put Strain on Women's Hearts, Study Says

Heart disease is one of the leading killers of both men and women, and scientists have identified stress as one major risk factor that can damage the heart. But Dr. Michelle Albert, one of the study's authors, said most of the previous research on stress and strain at work has focused on how they affect men's hearts. "We're all stressed out, but we're talking about strain or stress that's above and beyond the body's ability to handle it," Albert said. Albert and her colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston studied more than 22,000 women in the health care field – nurses, doctors and other professionals who were part of the decade-long Women's Health Study. The researchers asked women about the stressors in their jobs, including the pace, amount of work, demands, required skills and control over decision-making...Read more »

Study: More TV Linked to Larger Waists, Weaker Legs for Kids

The more television a child watches, even in the first years of life, the more likely he or she is to be thicker around the middle and less muscularly fit, according to a new study. Previous studies have linked lots of television with childhood obesity and other child health detriments, but this study's authors say their report is the first to relate how time in front of the boob tube affects a specific measure of physical fitness, their explosive leg strength, an important asset for sports like soccer, basketball and football. Caroline Fitzpatrick, the study's lead author, said the measure isn't just important for children who want to be athletes. "Explosive leg strength is an important measure of a child's overall physical fitness, their general muscular fitness," she said...Read more »

Women and Heart Attacks: Know the Signs

Did you know that heart disease affects more women than men and that the warning signs of heart attack can vary greatly between the sexes? Long considered a man’s problem, heart disease is actually responsible for 52 percent of all deaths in American women, claiming 250,000 female lives every year – more than all forms of cancer. And, on top of this staggering statistic, studies have shown that women are more likely to have a heart attack as the first sign of heart disease...Read more »

Stand Up to Read This

If you’re on the subway, don’t scramble to find a seat. If you’re reading, why not stand up? And if you work in an office, install motion sensors that turn lights on and off. Those are just three pieces of advice from I-Min Lee, a co-author of a study published Tuesday in the online journal BMJ Open that shows that sitting down for more than three hours a day can cut a person’s life expectancy by two years, even if he or she is physically active and refrains from dangerous habits like smoking. Watching TV for more than two hours a day can also shave life expectancy by another 1.4 years, according to the report, which analyzed five underlying studies of nearly 167,000 people over a range of four to 14 years. The study adds to a growing body of evidence that points to the potential consequences of leading a sedentary lifestyle. Last year, scientists found a link between sedentary jobs, or jobs that don’t require a lot of energy expenditure, with colon and rectal cancer. Scientists uncovered similar findings in March, when they found that cancers linked to obesity and lack of physical activity rose every year from 1999 through 2008...Read more »

Confusion at the Yogurt Aisle? Time for Probiotics 101

Researchers are studying the ability of beneficial micro-organisms - or probiotics - to treat a range of conditions from eczema to inflammatory bowel disease. And the idea that "good" bacteria are healthy for us is gaining traction. But the science is tricky. On one hand, scientists now know that some of the millions of microbes that populate our guts are beneficial. "It's incredibly clear that these bacteria in our gut are not just innocent bystanders, hanging out," says Athos Bousvaros, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Harvard Medical School. Beneficial bacteria help us digest food, make vitamins, even help protect us from harmful pathogens. "That's all totally real," Bousvaros says.But it's not clear which live micro-organisms, or probiotics, are helpful, says Bousvaros.Lots of people have turned to yogurt, with the belief that the bacteria added to the milk as part of the fermentation process are helpful. And there's some evidence that yogurt affects digestion...Read more »

Delineating the Perfect Swim Stroke

Should a swimmer’s arms serve as paddles or propellers? That question, abstruse as it might seem, underlies a long-running controversy in swimming about the best, most efficient technique for the freestyle and the backstroke. It also prompted a new study from a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University that, in seemingly answering the question, is likely to provoke even more debate. he concern about how best to position and move the arm during the freestyle stroke (also known as the front crawl) and its inverse, the backstroke, first gained prominence back in the 1960s, when James E. Counsilman, the famed Indiana University men’s swimming coach known as Doc, decided to apply scientific principles of propulsion and fluid dynamics to swim techniques. The physics of swimming are simple enough. To move through the water, you must generate thrust. To do so, you can use dragging or lifting forces. Drag is created by, unsurprisingly, dragging back against the water and, in the process, pushing an object, like the swimmer’s body, forward...Read more »

Is a Calorie Just a Calorie?

So is a calorie just a calorie? Science writer Gary Taubes says no, it is not. In a study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. David Ludwig of Boston's Children Hospital found that patients on a low-carb diet burned more calories a day and kept the weight off longer than those who are on a low-fat diet. In an op-ed called "What Really Makes Us Fat," in this past Sunday's New York Times, Gary Taubes argues that the study provides further evidence that following a low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diet may be a bad idea and contributing to America's obesity epidemic...Read more »

Look Beyond the Label

More than 80% of the nation's businesses with 50 or more employees have some form of health promotion program. according to the Welllness Council of America, and this trend is growing. Provant Health Solutions' Chief Growth Officer, Nancy Brock, is one of the experts who weigh in on how to select the right wellness partner. HR/benefits professionals likely will face the task of selecting a wellness program provider, such as health coaching, health risk assessments, and/or vaccinations...Read more »

Having Your Coffee and Enjoying It Too

I last wrote about America’s most popular beverage four years ago, and the latest and largest study to date supports that earlier assessment of coffee’s health effects. Although the new research, which involved more than 400,000 people in a 14-year observational study, still cannot prove cause and effect, the findings are consistent with other recent large studies. The findings were widely reported, but here’s the bottom line: When smoking and many other factors known to influence health and longevity were taken into account, coffee drinkers in the study were found to be living somewhat longer than abstainers. Further, the more coffee consumed each day — up to a point, at least — the greater the benefit to longevity...Read more »

Small firms fear possible stop-loss limit on self-insurance

As if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act didn’t give employers enough to worry about, a PPACA-related regulatory headache may be taking hold for small firms. Despite the possibility that the Supreme Court could in just a few days rule to water down or strike PPACA entirely, the Obama administration is investigating the possibility of imposing limits on stop-loss coverage that could severely undermine the ability of small and midsize businesses to offer self-insured plans. It stems from a formal request for information about federal rules relating to stop-loss insurance, which is seen as a precursor to a regulation...Read more »

Most employers likely to provide health coverage in 2014

Although the entire HR/benefits industry is waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act later this month, 86% of single employers and corporations will or are likely to continue to provide health coverage to their employees in 2014, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. “These employers recognize that offering health care coverage is an important benefit that helps retain current employees, attract future talent, and increase employee satisfaction,” says Michael Wilson, IFEBP chief executive. The report, “Health Care Reform: 2012 Employer Actions Update,” shows that only 1% of respondents will definitely not provide coverage to all full-time employees in 2014. Among the 54% of employers that declined to definitively state that they will continue to provide coverage to all full-time employees in 2014, many (45.1%) cited the cost of providing coverage becoming too expensive as the driving reason...Read more »

Moderation as the Sweet Spot for Exercise

For people who exercise but fret that they really should be working out more, new studies may be soothing. The amount of exercise needed to improve health and longevity, this new science shows, is modest, and more is not necessarily better. That is the message of the newest and perhaps most compelling of the studies, which was presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in San Francisco...Read more »

American Heart Association's New Heart-Check Meal Certification Offers Consumer Confidence on Healthy Choices

he American Heart Association announces its latest certification program to help keep diners’ hearts in-check when they choose to eat outside of their home, the Heart-Check Meal Certification. The heart-check mark that has been helping consumers identify heart-healthy products in grocery stores for 17 years now provides the same assurance for consumers on meals. The new Heart-Check Meal Certification helps consumers to select heart-healthy meals that meet the American Heart Association’s nutritional criteria. The American Heart Association has been at the forefront of consumer certification programs since 1995, with the launch of the Heart-Check Food Certification Program. The iconic, red-and-white check mark has grown to be recognized as a trusted source by consumers when making purchase decisions in supermarkets. Now, consumers can trust the same mark when eating out...Read more »

More Americans Are Checking Prices Before Getting Health Care

Do you shop around for the best price on a visit to the doctor, a CT scan or surgery at a hospital? If so, it looks like you've got a little more company. In the latest NPR-Thomson Reuters Health Poll we asked people across the country whether they size up the prices for care before making decisions. And, if so, how they do it. We put the same questions to more than 3,000 people back in September 2010, and we were curious to see how much had changed. Right off the bat, we wanted to find out the proportion of households that included someone who had received health care services in the past year. About 81 percent of the households we asked in April had, virtually the same as the 80 percent we found in 2010...Read more »

Want To Lose Weight? Get Some Sleep

It sounds like a dream: getting to bed early for a good night's sleep. But our "to-do" list seems to inevitably get in the way; a work deadline you can't ignore, emails to catch up on, a child needing your attention—all can sidetrack you from getting solid hours of slumber. Indeed, hyper-busy, working Americans are finding it difficult to carve out time for the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailed results of a 2010 survey, which found that 30 percent of working Americans reported sleeping an average of 6 or fewer hours per day, with night-shift workers logging fewer winks than day-shift workers...Read more »

Teaching Old Chips New Tricks: The Red One Means Stop

We've all been there. You start nibbling on some chips -- just a snack, you say to yourself -- and before you know it, you've reached the bottom of the bag. How does that happen? More importantly: how do we stop? Researchers at Cornell University think they've discovered an answer to the second question. The solution involves colored chips that serve as an approximate visual indication of serving size. By slipping a colored chip every so often into a stack of normal chips, scientists found that study participants not only could report back how much they'd eaten with greater accuracy -- they also snacked less compared to control participants...Read more »

Good And Bad Fats Affect Brain Health, Too

"Good" fats like monounsaturated fats and "bad" fats like trans and saturated fats aren't just factors in heart health - a new study shows they can affect brain health and memory, too. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital found that women who consumed the most "bad" fats in their study were also the ones who had the worse memory and brain functioning over the four-year study period, compared with women who consumed the fewest "bad" fats...Read more »

Provant CEO Shares Emerging Trend of Wellness Incentives for

Provant Health Solutions (Provant) Chief Executive Officer Heather A. Provino today spoke to senior-level benefits and wellness professionals at the 13th Annual Employer Symposium, an event organized by the Ohio-based Employers Health Coalition, a non-profit addressing employee healthcare and wellness issues for member organizations. The Symposium titled, “Finding Value for Your Healthcare Dollar,” highlighted several topics, including advancing mental health in the workplace, healthcare payment reform, purchaser strategies for driving healthcare value and others. For a discussion titled, “Planning, Sourcing and Implementing Your Health Management Strategy,” Provino joined Susan Marsico, director of corporate benefits and HR systems at the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), to share insight into a case study examining the approach, challenges and rewards of extending health management incentives and efforts to employee spouses and domestic partners...Read more »

Midlife fitness means lower healthcare costs in old age

Physically fit, healthy middle-aged adults have significantly lower healthcare costs as they age, compared to their less physically fit counterparts, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2012 Scientific Sessions. The study tracked Medicare coverage in 20,489 healthy people, free of prior heart attack, stroke or cancer, from 1999-2009. The average age was 51 years and 21 percent were women. Risk factors and physical fitness were determined at the beginning of the study. Associations between midlife fitness and healthcare costs in later life were estimated after being adjusted for each patient’s age, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol profile, diabetes, smoking status and medical history...Read more »

Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation

Two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. Left unchecked, obesity’s effects on health, health care costs, and our productivity as a nation could become catastrophic. The staggering human toll of obesity-related chronic disease and disability, and an annual cost of $190.2 billion for treating obesity-related illness, underscore the urgent need to strengthen prevention efforts in the United States. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked the IOM to identify catalysts that could speed progress in obesity prevention...Read more »

Is It Possible To Walk And Work At The Same Time?

When it comes to walking, the easy part is understanding the benefits: regular, brisk walks can strengthen our bones, help control blood sugar, help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and the list goes on. But the hard part? Time — finding the time to fit it into in. The folks at Kaiser Permanente, the Oakland, Calif.-based health plan, have launched an educational campaign aimed at helping people re-engineer physical activity back into our daily lives...Read more »

Business Workshop: Five important questions about wellness programs

Companies of all sizes that provide medical coverage to their employees could face an increase in their costs this year. This reality is prompting many companies to consider implementing wellness programs that encourage healthier lifestyles. Designing such a program means sifting through the many laws that apply to it, and answering a host of questions, including Health Insurance Portability and Availability Act (HIPAA)issues...Read more »

Help employees save money through wellness programs

CFOs aren’t the only ones with their eyes on the bottom line when it comes to health and wellness. Your organization’s workers also can—and want to—save money by participating in employer-sponsored programs. A study by Principal Financial Group revealed that em­­ployees who partake of corporate wellness offerings—like free flu shots, health screenings and discounts on gym memberships—spend less on personal health care, mostly because of employers’ subsidies...Read more »

How to habla, parlez and hui shuo benefits

Although employers have been responding to changing workforce demographics for more than a decade through a number of ways,rising health care costs also have raised the stakes for creating successful multicultural benefits communication campaigns. These efforts go beyond just open enrollment, with many employers focusing on bringing a multicultural/multilingual approach to wellness programs as well. John Jurich, national vice president of business development at Provant Health Solutions, works with employers who need to convey basic issues like cholesterol levels and what a biometric screening is to workers who don't speak English as a first language. He says employers in need of such translation services account for about 5% of Provant clients...Read more »

How to address the challenges and solutions surrounding health and benefits

There has never been a more challenging time for employers dealing with the dual problem of rising health care costs and declining employee health. As such, employers need to be thinking very differently about how they approach health care, says Jim Winkler, a senior vice president and large employer segment leader at Aon Hewitt. “Employers need to actively, directly and candidly talk with employees about the need to change behaviors for better health,” says Winkler. “You need to build in the right combination of rewards so that employees understand that if they want to spend a large amount of ‘house money’ on health care, they have to follow ‘house rules’.”..Read more »

Really? To Lower Your Risk of Diabetes, Eat Breakfast

The benefits of eating a solid breakfast are hard to dispute. People who skip that all-important first meal of the day, studies show, suffer setbacks in mood, memory and energy levels. They are also more likely to gain weight, in part because of excess eating later in the day. Research on the habits of people taking part in the National Weight Control Registry, a long-running study of successful dieters, for example, shows that about 80 percent eat breakfast daily. But emerging research suggests another advantage to consistently eating breakfast: a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes..Read more »

Don't Just Sit There

We all know by now that being inactive is unhealthy. But far too many of us think that being inactive is something that happens to other people. Studies of daily movement patterns, though, show that your typical modern exerciser, even someone who runs, subsequently sits for hours afterward, often moving less over all than on days when he or she does not work out. The health consequences are swift, pervasive and punishing...Read more »

8 tips to gain CFO’s wellness program buy-in

f you want the C-suite to support employee wellness programs, show your chief financial officer the money. CFOs who understand the link between employee health and productivity are more likely to embrace a wellness initiative as a financial priority for the company, a new study reveals. In fact, in a survey of CFOs by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), three-quarters said they believe providing health benefits is important for the company’s financial strategy. Even so, most CFOs still regard employee health as less of a driver of productivity than other benefits like training, the survey shows...Read more »

Consumer-directed U.S. health insurance surges

Currently, 59% of major employers have a consumer-driven health plan option in place, up from 53% a year ago, according to a survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. The groups queried companies with 1,000 or more employees across a range of industries. More significantly, employee enrollment in CDHPs has spiked at companies offering them as a choice. This year, 27% of eligible employees are enrolled, a 35% increase from 2011. That finding mirrors a Fidelity Investments report last week showing a 61% surge in sign-ups for health savings accounts among its client companies - the largest one-year gain since Fidelity has been offering HSAs...Read more »

Are Most People In Denial About Their Weight?

This moment of mistaken identity was disconcerting, but it wasn’t all that unusual. Many of us are surprised by our size when reflected in the mirror or a store window — it’s like thinking that a recording of your own voice sounds off. And while psychologists have worried for years that media images of superslim starlets would put the nation’s collective self-esteem at risk, it turns out that something altogether different has happened. As the population becomes fatter, study after study shows that instead of feeling bad about ourselves, we have entered a collective state of denial about how big we’re actually getting...Read more »

The Plot to Keep Health Care Prices from Consumers

The possibility that the Supreme Court will strike down all or part of the Affordable Care Act has given new life to Republican calls to put market mechanisms to work in holding down health care costs. There’s one big problem, though. Markets cannot work when consumers and patients have almost no information about the prices they pay for health care. Employers are already moving in the direction of giving consumers “more skin in the game,” according to a recent survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute. One in five Americans are already in high-deductible insurance plans, an all-time high, even though this approach is leading many to skimp on preventive services that could avoid higher health care costs down the road...Read more »

5 Myths About Stress, Debunked

In today's world, feeling stressed out is the rule, not the exception. For most of us, learning more about how to handle stress is a crucial step toward better physical and psychological health. Unfortunately, a lot of what passes for common wisdom about stress turns out not to be so wise after all. Watch out for these five common myths...Read more »

Wellness Programs that Work

Wellness has been a popular buzzword in recent years. Yet programs have had to overcome hurdles—lack of participation, lack of funding—to earn their right as a standard in organizations’ benefits package. Several large firms have reaped the benefits of a successful wellness program and have tasked themselves to take it to the next level. How? Developing new efforts to address growing health risks, expanding participation to dependents, and greater incentives are a few solutions. Each of the organizations didn’t approach their wellness initiatives alone. They looked to Provant Health Solutions for various reasons..Read more »

Obesity drives healthcare costs more than smoking: new study

Newswise — PHILADELPHIA, PA — Obesity adds more to health care costs than smoking does, reports a study in the March Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). James P. Moriarty, MSc, and colleagues of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., analyzed the incremental (additional) costs of smoking and obesity among more than 30,000 Mayo Clinic employees and retirees. All had continuous health insurance coverage between 2001 and 2007. Both obesity and smoking were associated with excess costs for health care. Compared to nonsmokers, average health costs were $1,275 higher for smokers. The incremental costs associated with obesity were even higher: $1,850 more than for normal-weight individuals. For those with morbid obesity, the excess costs were up to $5,500 per year...Read more »

Weight loss and increased fitness slow decline of mobility in adults

Weight loss and increased physical fitness nearly halved the risk of losing mobility in overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes, according to four-year results from the Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial funded by the National Institutes of Health. The results are published in the March 29, 2012, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. "Being able to perform routine activities is an important contributor to quality of life," said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., director of the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which led the study. "These findings add support to making lifestyle changes that improve health and reduce disability in people with type 2 diabetes, changes that already have been shown to prevent the disease and provide a good return on investment."..Read more »

Employers fail to take the measure on sickness absence, finds Aon Hewitt

Employers are failing to get to grips with the issue of sickness absence, with many unaware of current absence levels, according to Aon Hewitt. The Aon Hewitt Benefits and Trends Survey, which polled 185 employers in the UK, representing a combined workforce of 650,000 employees globally, revealed employers are missing opportunities both to improve the health of their workers and to cut costs - mainly due to a lack of focus on understanding and measuring sickness absence...Read more »

Health plan sees 36% increase in health savings account balances

As more employers introduce employees to consumer-driven health plans with a health savings account, utilization grows of those HSAs. Last week, UMB Healthcare Services announced a growth of 36% of HSA account balances, surpassing $400 million dollars following 2011 open enrollment. The number of HSAs stood at nearly 220,000 at year-end. UMB also saw a 37.9% growth in its debit cards associated with flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements and HSAs. Total accounts reached more than 2.4 million accounts at year-end. Dennis Triplett, CEO of UMB Healthcare Services, attributes this to two things: education and an increase in not just small, but large employers, using these plans...Read more »

Dietary patterns exist among U.S. adults based on demographics

Scientists say they have identified five eating patterns for U.S. adults that are strongly influenced by age, race, region, gender, income and education. Presenting their findings at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions, the scientists said the five dietary patterns are: Southern — fried, processed meats, and sugar sweetened beverages Traditional — Chinese and Mexican food, pasta dishes, pizza, soup and other mixed dishes including frozen or take-out meals Healthy — mostly fruits, vegetables and grains Sweets — large amounts of sweet snacks and desserts Alcohol — proteins, alcohol and salads They based the patterns on results of food frequency questionnaires of 21,636 black and white adults ages 45 and older. This 110-food-item questionnaire was designed to estimate the usual and customary intake of a wide array of nutrients and food groups...Read more »

Cool hands may be the key to increasing exercise capacity

Cooling the palms of the hands while working out could help you stick with a physical activity program, according to a small study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions. In the study, obese women who exercised while using the AvaCore Rapid Thermal Exchange (RTX palm cooling device) improved their exercise tolerance and cardiovascular fitness. “Obese women often complain about sweating and getting tired because they’re walking around with extra insulation,” said Stacy T. Sims, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher and exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at Stanford University in California. “If you can slow the rate internal temperature rises and cool someone who is obese, they don’t store as much heat and don’t feel as uncomfortable. They can do more work.” The cooling devices cooled the palms of the hand and circulating blood, thus pulling heat off the body...Read more »

Gain Together, Lose Together

Here's another good reason to lose weight: It might benefit your friends, family and co-workers. Such altruism might be just the final "nudge" some of us need. Researchers are finding that the friends and family of obese and overweight individuals who lose weight lost weight themselves, and sometimes a lot of it. Dr. John Morton, who directs Bariatric Surgery at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, calls obesity a "family disease." "We all gather around the table to enjoy a meal together and we learn lessons when we do that," Morton says. "Just like you impart morals to your sons and daughters, you can do the same thing around the dinner table as well and it can be good or bad; we see that all the time." In fact, studies have shown that friends and family tend to gain weight together, in large part because they share similar eating and exercise habits. But over the years, Morton picked up another trend among his patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery, and their families. The obese and overweight sons, daughters and spouses of his patients lost weight, too...Read more »

Whole Diet Approach to Keeping Healthy

With the wide prevalence of chronic diseases in America, many people are trying everything possible to reduce their risk. While some jump to taking multivitamin and mineral supplements in hopes that they can improve their health and make up for dietary insufficiencies, the fact is that, for healthy people, only natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts/beans/lean meat and low-fat dairy, contain the necessary compounds of antioxidants, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, fiber, and more that the body needs to function properly to its best capability. According to Benjamin Cabellero, MD, PhD, professor of Pediatrics, Nutrition, and International Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, “there is no scientific basis for recommending vitamin-mineral supplements to the healthy population.” In fact, some supplements have even caused sufficient negative side-effects to end trials early, showing that consumption of only isolated vitamins and minerals prevents one from benefiting from the complex interactions of nutrients found in whole, unrefined foods. Ultimately, the best approach to keeping the body healthy for life rests in a “whole diet” approach, rather than individual nutrient acquisition. While whole grains, nuts/beans/lean meat, and low-fat dairy are generally available year-round, fresh fruits and vegetables often pose a challenge to people trying to maintain a diet centered on this whole food approach...Read more »

Burn Calories While Sitting at Your Desk

The key to a healthy weight and a healthy you lies in your metabolism. If you want to eat more without gaining weight and torch calories doing just about nothing, you've got to get your metabolism roaring. Here are six strategies for mealtime, gym time, downtime and bedtime that will help you put the pedal to the metal. “Protein is the building block of muscle,” says Roberta Anding, R.D., a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). “The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you expend.” Bump up your burn. Your muscles can use only 30 grams of protein at any time, a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association notes. Any more than that gets stored as fat. Aim for a minimum of 46 g of protein per day...Read more »

Getting Fat But Staying Fit?

Does being physically fit counteract some of the undesirable health consequences of being overweight? That question, of pressing interest to those of us who exercise while carrying a few extra pounds, prompted an important new study that focused on aerobic fitness and weight swings. The study, which was published last month in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, examined health information about more than 3,100 adults who’d visited the Cooper Clinic in Dallas for medical checkups. For years, scientists and the news media have been debating the relative risks of being fat but fit. While it might seem as if aerobic fitness could ameliorate many of the health problems associated with extra body fat, studies on the topic have produced mixed results...Read more »

Survey reports that just over 10 percent of American adults regularly practice healthy habits - lack of time is a culprit

Are you one of the many Americans not practicing healthy habits? A recent American Heart Association survey reports only 12 percent of American adults regularly practice all of these healthy habits: good nutrition, exercise and oral care. Of those that listed an excuse for not following through with healthy habits, the most common culprit is said to be a lack of time. The survey showed that among American adults, two health behaviors not practiced regularly are identified with improving cardiovascular health: •80 percent say eating at least 9 servings of fruit and vegetables daily is a struggle •About 60 percent say it is difficult to get the American Heart Association’s recommended levels of exercise -- at least 150 minutes every week of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking The survey also showed that 25 percent aren’t regularly practicing a healthy oral care routine – brushing and rinsing twice daily and flossing at least once daily. A positive aspect of the survey shows that 90 percent of Americans are in the mindset to improve their health...Read more »

Long-time Diabetics Have Increased Risk Of Stroke

The longer you have diabetes, the higher your risk for stroke, according to a study in Stroke, an American Heart Association journal.In the study, diabetes increased stroke risk 3 percent each year and tripled the risk for people who had diabetes for 10 years or more, compared to people without diabetes. "Although stroke rates have been declining overall, the increase in diabetes incidence over the same period may lead to a higher overall stroke burden in the future," Elkind said. While previous research examined the relationship of diabetes and stroke in women, this is the first to examine whether the length of time a man or woman has type 2 diabetes impacts the risk of ischemic stroke. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke caused by blocked blood flow to the brain. While diabetes is a known risk factor for stroke, the influence of diabetes duration is unclear...Read more »

Smoking Linked to Higher Rate of Psoriasis: Study

Smokers are at higher risk of developing the autoimmune skin condition psoriasis than nonsmokers, a new study finds, possibly because smoking pushes the body's immune system into overdrive, one expert suggests. The research doesn't directly prove that smoking causes psoriasis, and the wide majority of smokers would avoid developing the condition even if they faced an increased risk. Still, the findings provide yet another reason for smokers to drop the habit, said study co-author Dr. Abrar Qureshi, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. "It behooves us even more to advise individuals who are smoking to quit," he said, especially because psoriasis itself is linked to higher risks of diabetes and heart attacks...Read more »

When Does a Carb Not Act like a Carb?

Carbohydrates ("carbs") are a point of controversy in some dietary circles, particularly with regard to weight loss. But are all carbs alike? You know they're not, of course, but now a new study in the Journal of Nutrition has revealed that a diet rich in the kind of carbohydrates that are digested slowly by the body--legumes, whole grains, beans, and other high-fiber foods--can significantly reduce inflammation in the body. Reducing inflammation is a good thing, since people who have chronic inflammatory disease have a higher risk for many forms of cancer, as well as for cardiovascular disease...Read more »

Why it's so Important to Keep Moving

Hoping to learn more about how inactivity affects disease risk, researchers at the University of Missouri recently persuaded a group of healthy, active young adults to stop moving around so much. Scientists have known for some time that sedentary people are at increased risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes..Read more »

Love Your Heart - Take Steps to Reduce Heart Risks

February is American Heart Month — a time to reflect on the sobering fact that heart disease remains the number one killer of both women and men in the United States. The good news is you have the power to protect and improve your heart health...Read more »

Down-to-Earth Benefits of Mindfulness

The last decade has brought an explosion of interest in mindfulness, the practice of intentionally focusing awareness on here-and-now experience. The idea is to notice and accept experience as it unfolds from moment to moment without judging it. That simple-sounding concept has a host of health implications. A large body of research now shows that practicing mindfulness can help people manage stress, reduce depression and anxiety, and cope with chronic pain and illness..Read more »

Eating citrus fruit may lower women's stroke risk

A compound in citrus fruits may reduce your stroke risk, according to research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. This prospective study is one of the first in which researchers examine how consuming flavonoid subclasses affects the risk of stroke. Flavonoids are a class of compounds present in fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate and red wine...Read more »

How Exercise Fuels the Brain

Moving the body demands a lot from the brain. Exercise activates countless neurons, which generate, receive and interpret repeated, rapid-fire messages from the nervous system, coordinating muscle contractions, vision, balance, organ function and all of the complex interactions of bodily systems that allow you to take one step, then another...Read more »

It's Not Too Late to Become a Yoga Believer

One morning, a well-meaning swimming buddy called out for all in the Y locker room to hear: “I can’t believe Jane Brody doesn’t do yoga!" She was right: I didn’t do yoga and, not knowing what it might offer me, I was loath to try it. I also feared that the meteoric growth of yoga had outpaced the training of quality teachers able to protect my aging body parts...Read more »

Obesity: Does it Start in the Womb?

A prominent nutritionist at Louisiana State University, Melinda Sothern, PhD, has developed that she believes explains how today's obesity epidemic began. Briefly, Sothern thinks that obesity can be tracked to the obstetrical practices of the 1950s and 1960s...Read more »

Exercises to Beat the Winter Bulge

There’s no doubt that during this time of year, there’s a strong temptation to slip into hibernation mode, but for life-long health, it’s important that you don’t let months of inactivity slip by. If you do, your clothes will be too tight, your body will be too sluggish, and your fingers will be too deep into that jar of marshmallow topping...Read more »

Mayo Clinic, U of M researchers take to road to study workplace health

Ever wondered whether your workplace health initiatives are really making your workers healthier – and saving money for the health plan? Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota now have a laboratory on wheels that can travel to workplaces to help business owners answer the question...Read more »

Provant Launches New Program to Help Employees and Employers Lower Health Care Costs

Provant Health Solutions today announced the launch of an enhanced wellness and benefits advocacy program that helps employees improve their health and better understand their insurance benefits while addressing employers' concerns about rising health care costs. The new program, Navigate myHealthsm, combines a comprehensive wellness solution with easy access to health information, education, and personal decision tools with benefits assistance, medical expertise, and claims resolution...Read more »

Economic Toll of Diabetes Begins Early

Diabetes may be more than a hazard to health. A new study shows that young adults with the disease have lower lifetime earnings and fewer job prospects than their peers. The new research helps quantify the non-medical costs of a burdensome disease that afflicts nearly 10 percent of Americans. The study did not distinguish between Type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity and inactivity and is by far the most common form of the disease, and Type 1, sometimes called juvenile diabetes, which may be linked to immune, genetic and environmental factors...Read more »

Team Lotteries Motivate Employees to Participate in Wellness Programs

Corporate wellness programs are one way that employers can help improve the health of their employees and decrease spiraling health care costs. However, getting employees to participate in such programs can be challenging...Read more »

Healthcare Roadmap – Healthcare Strategy in a Post-Reform Environment

The ultimate goal of a wellness program is to create and sustain a culture of heath within an organization. Once this culture has been realized, only then can healthcare costs begin to flatten or in many instances, actually begin to reverse...Read more »

One in Three First-Time Participants in Laboratory-Based Wellness Program Learn of High Risk for Chronic Disease

One in three first-time participants in a company-sponsored, lab-based wellness program were not aware they were at high risk for a serious medical condition, according to an article published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE..Read more »

Analysts forecast higher health costs for 2012

More than half of U.S. companies plan to charge employees more for their health insurance in 2012, a recent National Business Group on Health survey found. Nearly four in 10 said they’ll increase employee deductibles..Read more »

Would workplace safety benefit from wellness programs?

Want fewer injuries at work? Perhaps your company should encourage employees to join weight loss and exercise programs. That’s because a recent Australian study shows obesity usually increases the risk of injury and tends to complicate recovery. Overall, the researchers found: - Obesity negatively affects balance and posture, increasing the risk of falls - Obesity is associated with overuse syndromes (ex.: carpal tunnel syndrome), work-related injury and osteoarthritis..Read more »

Towers Watson Study: Investing in Workforce Health Generates Higher Productivity

As Canadian organizations search for ways to improve workforce productivity, they are trying new approaches to combat the double-whammy of rising health costs and increased employee absence, stress and disability - and some are succeeding more quickly than others...Read more »

Workplaces Feel The Impact of Obesity

From cubicle farms to auto factories, accommodating larger and heavier employees has become a fact of life. One in three U.S. adults is obese, and researchers say the impact on business can be boiled down to a number: $1,000 to $6,000 in added cost per year for each obese employee, the figure rising along with a worker's body mass index. Studies estimate the total cost of obesity to U.S. employers — including lost productivity — at $73 billion a year. But that figure doesn't include some of the smaller ways the workplace is adapting...Read more »

Business or Pleasure, Health is Hot for Hotels

Professionals traveling for business don’t have to leave their wellness efforts behind at the office. Thankfully, many hotels are starting to catch on. Here are seven trends to look for when booking your next business trip...Read more »

Employers: Higher Wellness Incentive is Reform’s ‘Most Beneficial’ Element

A recent survey finds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s “most beneficial” measure is its increase in the maximum allowable incentive used for worksite wellness, according to employers representing various industries...Read more »

Look Beyond the Label

More than 80% of the nation's businesses with 50 or more employees have some form of health promotion program, according to the Wellness Council of America, and this trend is growing. Provant Health Solutions' Chief Growth Officer, Nancy Brock, is one of the experts who weighs in on how to find the right wellness partner. HR/Benefits professional likely will face the task of selecting a wellness program provider, wuch as health coaching incentive programs, health risk assessments, biometric screenings, and/or vaccinations...Read more »

Going ‘Global’ with Wellness

The prevalence of corporate wellness programs is growing in different parts of the world for different reasons. Multinational corporations have the challenge of creating strategic goals that are meaningful and measurable and can be implemented by business units worldwide...Read more »

Open Enrollment and Wellness Rollout

Consultants agree company wellness initiatives should kickoff separately from a company’s open enrollment period. However, it can still be done with careful planning...Read more »

Wellness on the Web

The Internet – online portals and social media – can be a powerful wellness tool when used as part of a comprehensive health promotion strategy that includes other major touch points (i.e. face-to-face and telephonic communication)...Read more »

Moving company wellness from piecemeal efforts to a comprehensive strategy

The current health care environment is forcing businesses to move from tactical wellness initiatives to efforts that are part of a larger, strategic plan. Strategic wellness requires leadership buy-in, big picture goals with incremental milestones, communication using multiple mediums, behavioral interventions, proper measurement, and program refinement...Read more »

Provant Renews NCQA ‘Wellness & Health Promotion With Performance Reporting’ Accreditation for Third Consecutive Time

It is the third consecutive voluntary audit completed by Provant since 2009. “This achievement assures our clients and prospective clients of the validity of the outcome measures and reports we regularly provide them,” said CEO & Founder Heather A. Provino. “Our continued accreditation demonstrates Provant’s commitment to adhere to best practice principles.”..Read more »

Choosing a wellness vendor: Tips for finding the right match

Most of the nation’s businesses offer some form of health promotion program. Finding the right wellness partner can be a challenge, since providers often bundle and price their services differently. Here are some major points benefit professionals should consider when weighing their wellness options...Read more »

Planning Your Retirement: Invest in Your Health

By getting healthier, you might save a lot of money over your lifetime...Read more »

CEO buy-in on wellness programs improves

Senior management’s support of improving employee health increased to 42 percent in 2010, compared to 6 percent in 2009, according to a survey by Willis North America...Read more »

Are Employers Prepared to Enforce Wellness Programs If Employees Start to Slack Off?

Smoking and obesity cost employers a significant amount of money, say some lawyers; so much that many businesses have embraced wellness plans...Read more »

Wellness and workplace productivity

Fitness and nutrition are hot topics these days, due in part to a soaring obesity rate in the United States, and workplace wellness is no exception...Read more »

Wellness programs and spending on the rise

A joint survey sponsored by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health finds that nearly 75 percent of mid to large size employers offered 19 or more health promotion programs...Read more »

Incentive spend per worker can hit $3k

Employers spend about $220 on each employee, up from $163 in 2009, according to a new survey released by Buck Consultants...Read more »

Provant's Annual Six Sigma Review Indicates High Level of Service Delivery Accuracy for National Programming

The national wellness provider's commitment to Six Sigma ensures high quality performance for its many clients nationwide. Six Sigma is a popular business management standard used by many organizations, including Fortune 500s..Read more »

Blinding them with science: More than a cliché, company culture is a business driver with metrics to support its impact

Recent findings on company culture and workers’ perceptions of it make clear that employers can no longer afford to overlook company culture as a key corporate objective..Read more »

Put down the 10-foot pole: Wellness is not a poisonous snake

Companies no longer can afford to sit on the sidelines and play the reluctant spectator. Health care costs won't magically decrease...Read more »

Financial incentives in wellness programs paying off, Mercer reports

For the second year in a row, medical plan cost increases in 2010 were about two percentage points lower, on average, among employers with extensive health management programs than among those employers offering limited or no health management programs, according to Mercer’s "National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans."..Read more »

Nearly Half of Employers Plan to Enhance Preventive Care Benefits in Response to PPACA

While 60% of employer plans currently offer free coverage for some or all preventive care services, 46% of employers plan to improve or enhance their preventive care benefits in response to new health-care reform regulations as defined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), according to the results of a HighRoads survey of larger employers...Read more »

Provant Health Solutions Appoints Vice President of Business Development

Provant hires John Jurich to cultivate wellness partnerships with large employers, benefits consultants and other organizations..Read more »

Provant Health Solutions Appoints Chief Growth Officer

Provant hires health care veteran Nancy Brock to develop and promote comprehensive wellness strategies...Read more »

PPACA makes strange bedfellows: Medicare, corporate wellness

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is required to provide, with no co-payments or deductibles, Medicare beneficiaries with an annual wellness visit and a personalized prevention plan...Read more »

Dieting for dollars? More U.S. employees trying it

Many employers are betting they can find your price. At least a third of U.S. companies offer financial incentives, or are planning to introduce them, to get their employees to lose weight or get healthier in other ways...Read more »

 

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