Could there be anything more demoralizing than submitting to a tape measurement of your waist in front of a roomful of co-workers? Well, I’ve done it (twice!), and it ranks up there. But frankly, I can think of worse moments. Not many, but some.
It helps that all of us are in the same predicament and are there by choice. And it really helps that it’s all in the name of improving your health. And it really, really helps that you are saving $40 a month on your health insurance premium.
WellU is an employee wellness program fostered by the U to encourage healthy lifestyle choices. In return for an annual savings of nearly $500, once a year you weigh in, measure up and get your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose checked. (Note to physicians everywhere—how is it possible that the results of the blood work are processed and printed out for me in a couple of minutes, while I wait? And that in the doctor’s office, I am moved to the lab, poked by yet another employee, and the results aren’t given to me for at least a week? Time is money, people, time is money. Now back to our story.) Every two years, you fill out a health questionnaire.
Most important, the information is for YOU. No one checks to see if you’re on track, and premiums don’t change based on your results. But the information—and a host of helpful resources like nutrition counseling, cooking classes, fitness assessments and exercise prescriptions—is available so that you are aware of and can decide to make changes for the better.
Of course, the U is hopeful that this investment will yield results in healthier and more productive employees. The data is collected in the aggregate to see if over time having such tools does incentivize employees to make healthy lifestyle choices. The program is in its third year and if participation is any indication of success, it’s working. In 2008, sixty percent of the U’s 15,000 plus employees submitted to that nerve-wracking tape measure. But they also collectively saved $186,000 per pay period in premium costs, and 14 percent more had preventive care screenings than in 2007.
As for me, my cholesterol (and my weight) was elevated a bit. Not a lot, but enough that I added one more workout during the week, and restarted Weight Watchers. I’ve lost four pounds in as many weeks and hope the regimen is working on the LDL as well. Bottom line, I’m saving some money and feeling even better. I’m even one step closer to the “skinny” jeans. Not a bad tradeoff for facing that miserable measuring tape.