Medtronic has long had a focus on the total wellness of our employees and their families. The fact is that it costs less for everyone when employees stay healthy. As a company, our goals are to provide employees with an affordable benefits program that offers choice and flexibility and to be a partner in their wellness.
Health care reform and the rising cost of health care have made it critical for us to work with employees on managing costs. In addressing this challenge, we didn’t want to simply shift costs to employees. Instead, we made strategic changes to our plans, including eliminating high-cost and under-used plans. We also strengthened our high-deductible health plan to include lower premiums, a $20 copay for office visits and enhanced pharmacy benefits. These changes nearly doubled plan participation.
With new choices, employees often need help to determine what plan is right for them and how to navigate the health care system, which is why they have access to a virtual, interactive benefits guide and dedicated customer support. These two innovative strategies support better decisionmaking and reduce wasteful spending that research indicates may comprise up to 30 percent of total health care cost.
Incentives are another layer in driving responsible health care decisionmaking. Employees who complete our annual heath risk questionnaire pay $600 less for medical premiums. When they complete health-related tasks, they can also earn incentive points, which can be redeemed for merchandise.
Global wellness challenges are engaging employees across the company. Our most recent example was a virtual expedition across Europe, where teams competed based on their numbers of steps. This wellness activity was also a team-building opportunity; more than 250 teams around the globe competed.
When one of our customers, a Florida hospital, learned about this, their executive leadership challenged our leadership to a virtual race from Minneapolis to Orlando. Medtronic accepted and we will be tallying our steps this summer using Fitbits. We’re calling this friendly challenge “Walk the Talk” to set a positive example as wellness leaders within our organization.
As a global health care solutions provider, Medtronic knows that health care will continue to evolve. But what will stay constant is our commitment to working with our employees to manage costs, providing incentives for responsible health behaviors and being a partner in their wellness.