Workforce Health and Wellness Cost Reduction, Sentry Health

Lexington, Kentucky is home to one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States — The University of Kentucky. With approximately 1,000 students, it’s committed to “cultivating a campus environment of mutual respect and impassioned conviction, and developing leaders who will succeed in a diverse and connected world.” One important element in achieving this goal is to focus on overall workforce health and wellness. This helps create a happy, healthy, and productive faculty and staff.

They took on the task of discovering how the University could best support their workforce health and wellness. Their goal was for their employees to be the healthiest, and happiest versions of themselves. They discovered that many health plan members were living with, or were at risk for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol, once they took a close look at the University’s health care data. They also hoped to stem the rising tide of chronic disease, and ease the associated toll on their overall workforce health care costs.

University leaders knew they were in a position to do more to support employees’ well-being. They implemented SentryHealth’s chronic disease management and workforce health coaching programs, as a result.

Discover what the University’s Human Resources Director had to say about the programs.

What drew you to SentryHealth’s health and wellness programs?

It’s a rule of thumb that 50% of health care costs are attributable to 5% of your population, and 80% of costs are from 20%. That’s true almost to the penny for us. We started looking at the results of the disease management program provided by our insurer in 2008, and found there was limited utilization after evaluating engagement and the support provided. There was some disappointment with the service level, because it wasn’t addressing our highest cost claimants.

Employers are too often focused on things like increasing deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums when looking at ways to cut costs. The problem is that you’re not really saving, because you’re just shifting costs to employees. We were also reading numerous articles indicating that 70% of all health care dollars are spent on preventable conditions. If we could just reduce that by 10%, that could save $150,000 annually. Plus, it would have a positive impact on quality of life. That’s when we decided to reach out to SentryHealth for help.

How many of your employees participate?

We have 464 people on our health plan, and about 138 of them are eligible for the chronic disease management program. We have 50% engagement among those who are eligible. 42% of the high-risk population are enrolled in the appropriate programs. There were a lot of questions around privacy, so we repeatedly heard “why do we (at the University) want the data?” I repeatedly explained that we don’t see any individual’s data, and that we only see aggregated reports.

Does the premium discount for participation help?

The discount works, no question. Not only do our people get a premium discount, but those who participate in the chronic disease management programs have zero copay on related prescriptions. On an annual basis, in aggregate, it costs the University about $6,000 to cover the copay costs. But, if you are a lower wage earner, it means a considerable savings to you.

How do you calculate return on investment (ROI) with SentryHealth?

Can I prove a 3-for-1 return? I feel comfortable we’re getting that, but it’s hard to prove. We are also looking at VOI (value of impact), because people are sick less often and are more productive. But, we don’t make widgets here, and we haven’t tracked the reduction in sick leave, so it’s hard to quantify.

What is the financial basis for engaging a third party for your health and wellness program?

Right now, about 10% of every net tuition dollar is going to fund our workforce health coverage. We care about the rising cost of tuition, and we want to be able to provide an affordable education for our students, so we are doing all we can to make proactive, cost-effective investments in our employees’ health.

SentryHealth: The Future of Workplace Health and Wellness

At SentryHealth, we’re redefining workplace health and wellness. Our programs are custom designed to meet the unique needs of our employers and their employees. We drive meaningful results for both employers and their employees through a combination of advanced analytics, high touch outreach and education, and meaningful workforce health wellness programs supported by personalized coaching. Our approach is unique and effective, because it ensures positive patient outcomes.

We combine advanced analytics, a NCQA-certified Health Risk Assessment, and a financial assessment to build a complete and unique profile for each employee, so we can truly understand risk and needs.

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