Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
When the State of Nebraska launched the wellness program, called wellnessoptions to its employees and spouses, we became one of the first states to offer an integrated wellness program that is tied to health plan coverage. As a result of successful wellness program efforts and outcomes, the State of Nebraska is demonstrating a strong example for others to follow by earning prestigious national awards - the 2011 Gold Well Workplace by the Wellness Councils of America and the 2011 Innovations Award from The Council of State Governments.
The State of Nebraska has recently learned that its wellness program has achieved another milestone as it becomes the first state wellness program to earn the coveted 2012 C. Everett Koop National Health Award, which includes stringent requirements for demonstrating health improvements and cost savings.
C. Everett Koop award applications are independently reviewed and rigorously scored by some of the nation's leading experts and researchers in the area of health management. Reviewers place the most scoring emphasis on program evaluation and results. The State of Nebraska is joined by only one other 2012 C. Everett Koop Award winner (L.L. Bean, Inc.) and three honorable mention programs. Thirteen other award applications did not meet the award requirements.
It has only been three years that the State of Nebraska has provided the wellnessoptions program, but aggregate results are showing improved lifestyles in the areas of increased physical activity, greater consumption of fruits/vegetables, tobacco cessation, improved stress management and increased completion of preventive screenings - all contributing to healthcare cost savings.
Specifically, medical and pharmacy costs have demonstrated the wellness program yielded a $4.2 million in reduced medical and pharmacy claims spending when comparing wellness program participant's health cost experience to non-wellness participants. For every $1.00 spent on the wellness program, $2.70 is returned in health care savings based on an independent review of claims data.
Private employers have implemented health management programs for more than three decades in an effort to improve employee health and lower health claims costs. But the State of Nebraska is one of only a few public employers that embraced the strategy of offering health improvement opportunities to lower employee health care costs. The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) has recently published a Case Study called "First of its Kind: The State of Nebraska's Integrated Plan for Health" that showcases the wellness program's components and strategy to lower costs while improving the health for employees and spouses.
Our message for Nebraska businesses, schools, families, and individuals is that wellness works every time. Prevention and wellness efforts lead to healthier employees, increased productivity, better employee satisfaction and lower future health care costs.
The 2012 C. Everett Koop National Health Award is a great example of how hard state employees have worked to improve their health.