When Kenny Wagner went hunting last November, he took along all the essentials -- his gun, his dog, and, of course, his pedometer. Wagner works at Alamco, a $12-million Clarksburg, W. Va., oil-and-gas company that recently won a Wellness Council of America award for encouraging healthful lifestyles among its 96 employees. Reporting the number of miles he walks helps Wagner earn year-end rebates that defray up to 65% of his portion of health-insurance premiums.
Alamco began its wellness program six years ago, shortly after the company decided to self-insure. "We thought that anything we could do in terms of prevention would help us out down the road," says chief operating officer Richard Hoffman. So employees were offered cash incentives for six healthful behaviors (which they report on their honor) or conditions: not smoking or chewing tobacco ($100); wearing a seat belt ($25); a cholesterol level below 150 ($100); blood pressure below 135/85 ($50); a waist-to-hip ratio of .8 or less for women and .95 or less for men ($50); and getting 30 minutes of exercise three times a week ($25). Spouses earn half the incentive amounts. Alamco also arranges lunchtime speakers, gives employees who exercise an extra half hour at lunchtime, hands out pedometers, and sponsors two health fairs annually.
This year Alamco distributed $19,000 in rebates, and, says Hoffman, "the program has paid off in spades." Insurance premiums have remained steady for five years. What's more, Hoffman says, "morale is up, absenteeism is down, and we've generated a feeling of teamwork and camaraderie."* * *