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Friday, April 17, 2009

Safeway's Wellness Program: "Healthy Measures"

Waiting for Congress to take up health care reform feels a lot like waiting for Christmas. That's why it's a pleasure to read about proactive companies like Safeway. Rather than wait for Congress to fix the problem, Safeway launched a wellness program that has saved the company millions.

Safeway spends $1 billion each year on health care for its 200,000 employees. A staggering sum, to be sure. But Steven Burd, Safeway's CEO, says that costs have remained steady since 2005, thanks to the company's wellness program.

Participants undergo a few simple tests--cholesterol, blood pressure, body composition, and the like--on an annual basis. Those who score well pay lower health premiums. "We took advantage of a little-known fact," Burd says. "That is that 70 percent of health care costs are driven by behaviors." He's so right, and that's why behavior modification is the core of our own wellness offerings. Whether you have 200,000 employees or 20, the concept is the same. 

Kudos to Safeway for taking the initiative, and congratulations to its employees for making the program a success.

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