Western & Southern Financial Group’s most important assets are our associates. Western & Southern invests in our associates in many ways, including providing a comprehensive health care plan at a very low cost. In fact, on average, associates only pay 13 percent of the company’s health care costs, which is half that of other employers in our peer group. The company uses several innovative strategies to promote associate engagement in wellness and to improve the quality of care.
Western & Southern self-administers our health care plan with a dedicated benefits department. This strategy requires additional investment in systems and personnel, but has advantages for both the company and associates:
- Managed-care nurses on staff provide support for associates and work with providers to minimize unnecessary tests and inpatient days;
- Integrated case management of lost time and health care results in less time missed due to illness; and
- Timely analysis of claim trends allows the company to anticipate emerging health trends and implement programs in response.
Western & Southern implemented a diabetes program several years ago in response to observed increase in diabetic and prediabetic cases. The company now contracts with a pharmacist to provide onsite visits for diabetic associates. The pharmacist checks blood sugar levels, assures compliance with prescribed medications and answers questions regarding the disease.
In addition, the company provides a disease-management program to help high-risk associates with significant diseases like multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease improve their quality of life and reduce costs.
The company also incentivizes associates to engage in their own wellness. We charge higher, but fully refundable, premiums for associates who:
- Do not maintain healthy body mass index (BMI) levels. To help associates achieve lower BMI levels, the company provides an onsite Weight Watchers program; an onsite fitness center at no cost to associates; and a cafeteria with low-fat, low-cholesterol and vegetarian menu options.
- Use tobacco products. To help associates stop using tobacco products, Western & Southern provides a tobacco cessation program at no cost to associates.
The higher premium amounts are refunded to associates who reduce their BMI to healthy levels and successfully stop using tobacco.
Western & Southern’s disciplined approach to delivering health care coverage has resulted in annual per-associate health benefit costs that are 10 percent lower than that of other large employers. Western & Southern’s strategy allows the company to keep costs under control and provides excellent support to associates in their quest for maintaining good health.