(Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a series exploring the total health of Cleveland and Bradley County residents. While the series looks at the big picture of health, it also delves into specific …
(Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a series exploring the total health of Cleveland and Bradley County residents. While the series looks at the big picture of health, it also delves into specific components, as well as options for self-improvement.)
Health insurance is a complicated business, with many plans only covering particular needs; however, some companies have figured out ways to not only offer good benefits, but also keep their employees healthy at the same time.
Whirlpool is one of these.
The company was named a Healthier Tennessee Workplace in April, and was awarded the recognition because of the organization’s leadership and commitment to creating a healthy work environment.
HealthScope Benefits wellness director, health coach and benefit advocate, Geno Moody, explained how HealthScope serves as benefits manager for Whirlpool.
Moody has served with the Whirlpool account for three years, and said Whirlpool offers a best-in-class, comprehensive benefit package for its employees.
“I’ve been in this industry almost 20 years, and have worked with multiple global manufacturing clients. So believe me when I say Whirlpool is legitimate when it comes to offering its employees the tools and resources to maintain good health or make steps toward improvement,” Moody said.
The company’s new structure for insurance strives to make its employees as healthy as possible, and uses a variety of different methods to do so. One such method is offering incentive rewards for completion of a biometric screening. Contingent on certain results, people can earn up to $1,200 to use toward their healthcare.
Whirlpool has two different medical plan offerings: a reward plan and a savings plan. The former is a standard, entry-level plan that 75-80% of employees gravitate toward. The latter plan is the high deductible option, having 20-25% gravitating toward.
The only way to earn these incentive rewards is by having medical coverage through the company, and Moody said this is a great opportunity to offset deductible costs. These incentive rewards are loaded onto VISA debit cards exclusive to the plan, and can be used to pay for a variety of things like prescriptions, co-pays and doctor bills, among others.
Moody stressed how it’s not just health insurance, but Whirlpool also offers its employees extensive vision and dental insurance as well as a 401K.
“We have a fitness reimbursement, where active Whirlpool employees can be reimbursed up to $250 for eligible expenses such as gym memberships, fitness classes or fitness equipment for the home. This is a great opportunity to provide our folks with the tools they need to stay healthy,” he said.
Part of Moody’s job is overseeing and helping people register for the biometric screenings, which is a 49-point screening. It assesses a variety of things, such as respiratory, heart, kidney, liver and digestive health, while also screening for cancers and other illnesses. A screening allows employees to make an informed decision based on their results, and can share their results with their primary care doctor.
Since Whirlpool considers a healthy employee a productive employee, the company isn’t simply giving employees their results and turning them loose. Instead, people like Moody are working with them several steps in advance to determine the right course of action for them based on their health results.
Moody describes the incentive rewards as the icing on the cake of health coverage at Whirlpool, and this cake is certainly popular, as Whirlpool sees about 73% participation in the programs.
In addition to its employees, Whirlpool also works with its workers’ spouses, and uses projected analytics to choose the best route toward health.
Insofar as Whirlpool’s coverage compares to other companies, Moody said Whirlpool’s pricing is nearly unbeatable in its affordable, varying options.
“Another great thing we offer is a nicotine premium credit, which is a $1,250 premium credit that’ll be knocked off their annual medical premiums if they’re not a nicotine user. On the other hand, if someone is interested in quitting smoking as well, I’ll meet with that person, provide them with strategies to overcome barriers and help them get that nicotine premium credit, too,” Moody said.
Having worked in the Cleveland community for 13 years, Moody said one of the most important things a company can do is to have a health promotion component, such as when Whirlpool recently partnered with Tennova Healthcare to host hernia screenings in December. Tennova brought the DaVinci XI robot to the facility to demonstrate the machine’s capabilities and provide “hands off” hernia screenings, thus encouraging employees to participate.
Whirlpool has also hosted various other promotions like an allergy and asthma screening, and mobile mammography, to name a few.
“I try to tap into various areas of health, especially those targeted areas we are trying to impact. We want it all to be measurable, as well,” Moody said.
While the Whirlpool medical coverage is offered to all employees starting on their first day of employment, coverage through the company is not mandatory, and choosing to not enroll doesn’t bring with it a penalty.
“We take pride in our program and really want to ensure our folks get the best options possible,” Moody said. “Once it really gets out there at just how expansive our offerings are, I think people will be happy they gravitated to Whirlpool.”
Smaller companies typically cannot afford such offerings because large employers like Whirlpool — as well as a few others in the community — have the advantage of volume leverage in negotiating insurance coverage with their providers.
But it doesn't mean local residents employed by smaller companies don't have options. They do, but it might require some shopping around.
At the very least, local residents — regardless of where they work — can still take control of their health with a self-starting individual program that can range from daily exercise on their own to regular check-ups with their primary care physician.
(Next: For local residents, as well as those within the region who live with no insurance, or poor health coverage, there's another option for periodic care. It's called the RAM clinic, and it will be featured in Sunday's edition.)
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