Make this year a healthy, rewarding one
BY TED HAYNES
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
1/23/13 at 4:11 AM
As 2013 begins, many people start to set goals and priorities for the new year. For most, finding a healthy weight, smoking cessation and better money management often top the list. However, many people may not recognize the inherent link between better health and saving money.
A healthy lifestyle can be directly correlated to financial savings and, in some cases, financial gain. Research has shown that consumers who take steps to live an overall healthier lifestyle can save money on medical expenses and identify risk factors for preventable yet costly diseases.
Find a healthy weight. Nearly 67 percent of Oklahoma adults are either overweight or obese, inflating related health-care costs by more than $850 million each year. Research from Health Care Service Corporation, parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, reports that the more than 15,000 members enrolled in its fitness program had significantly lower health claims costs, averaging a total cost savings of $750,000 to $950,000, year after year.
Stop smoking. According to the American Lung Association, Oklahomans who smoke one pack of cigarettes per day can spend more than $1,800 each year. Additionally, many employers have implemented a surcharge to health insurance premiums for those who self-identify as smokers. Nearly 25 percent of Oklahoma adults are smokers, so enrolling in employer-sponsored tobacco cessation programs may help consumers quit while saving money.
In fact, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma members enrolled in our smoking cessation program reported a quit rate of 34 percent, with an overall cost savings of more than $131,000.
Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Engaging in a healthy lifestyle not only can better your health, it can save you money. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, achieving a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), the number used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, can save an obese person about $1,400 a year in medical costs. It can also help in preventing Type 2 diabetes, which can save up to $6,000 a year in medication, glucose test strips, syringes and regular trips to the doctor.
Some employers also offer rewards for employees who take preventative measures. For example, in 2013, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma will offer $100 to employees who get their BMI screening. Research shows that every dollar spent on workplace wellness saves $6 in medical expenses, and it increases employee productivity. Imagine the impact if we all focus on wellness first.
As you begin to address your New Year's resolutions, take a few minutes to think about ways you can save money by taking steps to improve your health. If you're a smoker, consider enrolling in an employer-provided smoking-cessation program to get the support needed to successfully quit. Contact your health plan to learn more about wellness incentive programs and how participation can help you lose weight and prevent disease.
Reaching your wellness goals by adopting a healthier lifestyle may help you feel better, live longer and save money.
Ted Haynes is president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.
Ted Haynes: Take a few minutes to think about ways you can save money by taking steps to improve your health