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March 19, 2004     Cape Gazette
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March 19, 2004
 

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CAPE GAZE'IWE, Friday, March 19 - March 25, 2004.51 Employers: Prevention the best cure for rising Summit explores health insurance Businesses must encourage pre- ventive medicine to combat the rising costs of health care, a panel of experts told approximately 140 people at Delaware's inaugural Employer-Sponsored Preventive Medicine Summit at Delaware Technical & Community College- Stanton Campus March 12. The three-panel discussion, sponsored by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Lt. Gov. John Carney, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Delaware, Cardio-Ki- netics Inc., Coventry Health Care of Delaware, Delaware Technical & Community College, Kelly Benefit Strategies, Pro Physical Therapy, and St. Francis Hospital, included a welcome address from Carney focusing on options avail- able to employers to lower the costs of health care. "We need to get the unhealthy people healthy," said Carney, who sponsors the Lt. Governor's Chal- lenge. Moderator Dr. Marion Priest, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said employers must challenge employees and in- surance carriers, review laws pre- venting incentives and implement a personal cost for bad behavior. "I have a vision," he said, "that all workers will retire on their 100th birthday in good health." Throughout the morning, pan- elists offered a variety of exam- pies of how employers have en- couraged good health and reaped the benefits of lowered health- care costs. "We have allowed a system to evolve where it is treatment fo- cused," said panelist Dr. Bruce Panasuk. Instead, employers need to encourage their employees to accept responsibility. Mark Lafferty of Delaware Technical & Community College said the United States spends more money related to obesity, which raises the costs of health care more than any other illness. Healthy lifestyles not only benefit the individual but also the em- ployer. The second panel discussed em- ployer-sponsored wellness pro- grams and how the programs can reduce health-care costs. Tom Hall, founder and CEO of Cardio- Kinetics Inc., said corporations can identify risk factors through assessment programs. These programs allow employ- ees to identify their unhealthy lifestyles and then implement healthier alternatives. After a one- year period, employees return for a reevaluation and new assess- ments are made. "There are proven results [of healthier employees]," he said. "Employers have reduced health- care costs, absenteeism and turnover and increased productiv- ity." Human resources manager Bruce Bedder of DuPont Dow Elastomers said the company has encouraged healthy lifestyles from its employees by giving them a "healthy bonus" for each healthy behavior they participate in such as exercising, quitting smoking and wearing seat belts and helmets. "It's a unique way to approach health care," he said, "which has had a positive impact on job re- cruitment." The state of Delaware has also implemented an employee-well- ness program, according to Lisa Blunt-Bradley, director of the state's personnel office. The state initiated a pilot pro- gram with BlueCross BlueShield and Cardio-Kinetics targeting 100 employees, according to state I [] 1 , Follow the leader in local news: 00) lgll Subscribe to the Cape Gazette: call Kandy at 64.5-77 BLUNT- BRADLEY who participated budget Direc- tor Jennifer Davis. The plan encour- ages and re- wards positive behavior after testing em- ployees for health risks. Employees in the program changed their behavior toward a healthier lifestyle, she said. The third panel spoke about the future trends in health care and how preventive medicine and wellness programs can provide solutions. Kim Slocum, director of strate- gic planning and development for AstraZeneca, said there needs to be a balance between the cost and value of medical care, including a system that pays for outcome rather than throughput. "We need a foundation for qual- ity," said Dr. Paul Kaplan, the medical director for Blue Cross- Blue Shield. With a consumer-directed health system, Kaplan said, em- ployees will be able to take more responsibility for their health care and will be a more informed con- sumer. 49 Aintree I :dgewater Park Townhomes of Rehoboth Beach Only 2 gaits Left Starting at $419,900 Over 3000 Square Feet Over looking Canal on Rehoboth Ave. 4 & 5 Bedrooms 4 Full Baths Maintenance Free Exterior Call 1-302-226-5758 Call Bruce Vavala or Kevin O'Conner Today! I Member of Home Now through Dec., 2004, 10% of the commission I Builders Association generated off of Kevin's sales in EDGEWATER PARK will ] of Delaware be donated to the Sussex County Aids Commission. ,.,'.,- [1': 317 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach 227-4800