November 13, 2009
Regence Recognized as an American Heart Association Start! Fit-Friendly Company
Start! helps companies take steps to decrease health care expenses, increase productivity
PORTLAND, Ore. – Regence BlueCross BlueShield has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association’s Start! movement for helping employees eat better and move more.
“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at Regence,” said Mark Ganz, Regence president and CEO. “We’re committed to providing the best workplace environment possible and helping our employees lead healthier lives. We are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association’s Start! Movement.”
· Offer employees physical activity options in the workplace
o Regence received additional AHA community innovation award one -- of only eight nationally -- for outdoor boot camp exercise program to teach exercise techniques to employees, friends and families
· Increase healthy eating options at the worksite
o Regence offers 35% discounts on healthy choices
· Promote a wellness culture in the workplace
o Holistic program reinforced by seasonal activities, messages, emails, etc
· Implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture
o Regence offers on-site gyms and gym discounts; on-site nutrition programs like Weight Watchers and Kinetix
· Demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness
o Return on investment of $1.59 includes fewer absences and slower growth in medical claims for certain participants
The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program is a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping companies make their employees’ health and wellness a priority.
American employers face increasing healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity that cost an estimated $225.8 billion a year. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. Start! helps change corporate cultures by motivating employees to start walking, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.
Recognition is a critical component of the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program. Employers that join this program qualify for official recognition by the American Heart Association. They are listed on the program’s national and local websites, as well as recognition at the Start! Executive Leadership Breakfast and the Start! Heart & Stroke Walk. Qualifying companies also have the right to use the program’s annual recognition seal for internal communications and with external, recruitment-related communications.
Participating companies also get free access to program resources such as the free Start! Walking Program, materials to help promote company wellness programs to employees, internal newsletter templates and consultation on CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) programs.
Start! also offers MyStart! Online, a free Web-based fitness and nutrition tracker for companies and individuals. A “dashboard” feature lets HR or wellness managers view employee participation in Start!
“The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program offers a unique, easy-to-implement opportunity for corporations to increase employees’ physical activity, which will help improve their health – and their employers’ bottom line,” said Erin McDonough, Executive Director, Greater Portland American Heart Association. “Even people who haven’t exercised regularly until middle age can reap significant benefits by starting a walking program. A study published in 1986 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that individuals could gain two hours of life expectancy for every hour of regular, vigorous exercise they performed.”
Start! is sponsored locally by Oregon Health & Science University and nationally by SUBWAY® Restaurants, Healthy Choice® and AstraZeneca. For more information about the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program and how it is helping to improve the health of Americans by focusing on an activity that is convenient, free and easy, call 503-233-0100 or visit startpdx.org.
Regence is the largest health insurer in the Northwest / Intermountain Region, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence serves more than 2.5 million members as Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington). Each health plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities, and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit www.regence.com or follow us on Twitter.
About the American Heart Association
Founded in 1924, we’re the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of heart disease and stroke. To help prevent, treat and defeat these diseases — America’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers — we fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit americanheart.org