Safeway (USA) saves millions on healthcare by making employees "accountable"
Speaking at the World Health Care Congress, Safeway US CEO Steve Burd told delegates how making employees accountable for their own health has saved the company millions. "If you are part of a large organisation, you really don't have to wait for government to do anything. You can design your own healthcare reform," he said. Burd noted how healthcare costs Safeway USD1 billion per year for 200,000 employees, and that behaviour such as smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet are responsible for up to two-thirds of cases of cancer and heart disease. "We took advantage of a little-known fact; that is that 70% of healthcare costs are driven by behaviours," Burd said. Safeway has been running an experiment called Healthy Measures among 30,000 non-union workers, 74% of which have signed up for the plan. Employees have to be part of the programme to qualify for a discount - those who score the lowest pay 51% more for health insurance premiums than those who score perfectly. To take part in the scheme, employees must submit to an annual cheek swab to prove that they are not smoking, as well as have their cholesterol and blood pressure measured, and be weighed on a yearly basis. Safeway already had a fitness centre at its headquarters and offers discounted gym memberships and a 24-hour nurse health hotline. The company also encourages employees to get their health testing done at its instore pharmacies.
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