Ask Jill
05.15.2018

Can Personal Wellness Improve Financial Health?

Yes!  While many might be quick to think of the health benefits of embracing healthier lifestyles to improve our wellness, some may not be as quick to consider the financial benefits of these healthier habits.  We should not overlook that financial consideration, as it can be significant for both ourselves as individuals and families as well as for organizations and companies as employees.  We can see the opportunity for this within our own workforce here at NMC.

In addition to being the largest healthcare provider in our region, caring for the 55,000 people of northwestern Vermont, NMC is one of the largest employers in our region.  We provide health insurance to more than 1,300 employees and dependents through the “Accountable Blue” offering of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Vermont (BC/BSVT). In addition, NMC invests in our HealthyU employee wellness program to help our employees embrace healthy lifestyles and help make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Recently, we reviewed last calendar year’s data with the team from BC/BSVT and our colleagues from the Richards Group.  The power of health and wellness stands out in our data. It is noteworthy that NMC’s average claims cost per member per month was below the benchmark for Accountable Blue member. Still, there is real opportunity to improve our focus on helping our NMC team be as healthy as possible.  Personal wellness choices are impactful from a cost-savings standpoint in addition to making you feel better and giving you more energy.  Our own data for our hospital employees and dependents shows that the healthcare costs of an individual comes down $15 per month for those who enjoy 2-3 days of 30 minutes of physical activity per week compared to 0-1 days per week.  Simply put, that’s a $3,791 savings per year if you are physically active twice a week compared to once a week.  There’s a great reason to build two 15-minute walks into your day two or three times a week! For eating fruits and vegetables, our data shows that those who are eating four or more servings a day have lower costs by $2,633 per year than those eating 3 or fewer!  There’s a great reason to enjoy another apple or another serving of peas, beans, or broccoli! If I can do it you can!   To learn more about embracing a healthier lifestyle, join our RiseVT movement!  Visit www.risevt.org, connect with us on social media, and check out our offerings in the Messenger!

Naturally, preventive care and wise utilization are also important. Some with diabetes have gaps in their diabetes care relating to Hemoglobin A1c testing (a measure of blood sugar over time), eye exams, and kidney screening. This best practice preventive care has been shown to help avoid complications. This is a great conversation to have with your provider!  Our data also showed that NMCers are using the Emergency Department for non-emergent care.  We offer strong access to Primary Care and Urgent Care to help reduce avoidable ED visits – those visits that could have been served well thorugh your primary care or urgent care options (please use the ED when you need it for emergencies).  If you need help finding a primary care provider, call our community relations office at 524-1280 and for more information on urgent care, visit:  www.northwesternmedicalcenter.org/urgent-care

It was very impactful as an employer and as an individual to see the cost impact that positive wellness choices can have.  It is a win win!  NMC’s Occupational Health service, our Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, our medical staff, and the RiseVT movement are all here to help employers and individuals live healthier lives and achieve better personal results– which the data shows helps with financial health as well.  If you would like to learn more about any of our offerings, we would be happy to talk to you.  Please call our Community Relations office at 524-1280 to get the conversation started – and we will work with you to make the healthy choice the easy choice on the path to a healthier future!  And the weather is finally cooperating so we all can get outside and play!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer