News from the College of Education & Human Development

Get Healthy Now at UofL

September 2, 2009 in College News, Planetarium News

When employees are asked about the Get Healthy Now program, most respond that it allows the $20 discount on their monthly insurance premium. Patricia Benson, director of the program and instructor for the Health and Sport Sciences Department, stated that is what she hears most often, that many people really don’t know about the great things it has accomplished for so many university employees and the university as a whole.

Benson went on to state that the program is not a short-term fix but helps participants develop a long-term vision for a more healthy lifestyle. The Get Healthy Now program is a primary leader in its efforts to mitigate health issues. UofL transitioned to a self-funded medical model in 2003–meaning we pay all of our actual claims cost.

The program has demonstrated program impact with return on investment (ROI) of over a million dollars for the University. The ROI for the university results in about $3 back on every dollar invested into the Health Management program. The program’s success has led to state and national recognition as a highly effective health management model.

“The success of this program clearly demonstrates how quickly we can see the benefits of choosing a more healthy lifestyle,” stated Benson. “Some of our employees who have participated in the program have seen amazing results.”

Kentucky is at the top of the list in the country for high health risks and UofL’s population is reflective of those numbers. For example:

  • 85.3 percent of our population has 0-2 high health risks, meaning they smoke or have a high body mass index (BMI), which makes them more susceptible to coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and more;
  • 12.8 percent have 3-4 high risks considered multiple core morbidities such as smoking , excessive drinking, obesity and diseases related to those factors;
  • 24.7 percent are at risk due to obesity
  • 34.6 percent do not participate in physical activity.

Kentucky is number one in the nation for adults who do not exercise and number one in the number of adults who smoke, (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, statehealth.org).

“We have created in this country a culture of disease and need to move towards a culture of wellness. Physicians have no nutritional or behavior management training which is why it is so important to have a program like Get Healthy Now,” said Benson.

At UofL, great progress has been made towards creating an environment that promotes opportunities for employees to recreate—take time for a walk, ride a bike, etc. There are fitness programs for employees at Crawford Gym, the Student Activities Center and the Natatorium. The track and field area offers a walk/run track that is specially designed to be safer for those activities.

“We have an employee dedicated fitness facility that is staffed with professionally certified fitness specialist who can offer help with your workout or provide personal training if needed,” stated Benson.

Get Healthy Now was created in 2005 in response to the University’s need to contain health care costs. As a voluntary program, employees can choose whether or not they want to enroll. Confidentiality is key to the program being successful. The health assessments completed by employees each year are not shared with insurance companies, and employees work with the same health coach throughout the program.

The incentives from the program have worked. More than half of UofL employees have responded with enthusiasm and many of those have made healthy lifestyle changes that have resulted in improved health overall.

“Everyone should live their lives every day with energy and vitality. Healthy living results not only in longer years but a better quality of life,” said Benson.

To learn more about Get Healthy Now and taking steps towards more healthy living, contact their office at 502-852-1907, or visit the website, http://louisville.edu/hr/gethealthynow/.