Plans to introduce new health programs next year

Concordia Plan Services (CPS) says it will introduce several new health and wellness programs as part of the Concordia Health Plan (CHP), starting March 1.
Free to all CHP members, those programs will consist of Health Risk Assessment (HRA), Health Advisors (or coaches), a 24-Hour Nurse line, Disease management, and Webtools.
To administer those programs, CPS is teaming up with CareAllies, a health managemePfitzernt organization that is “a leader and award winner in wellness programs,” said Jack Pfitzer, CPS vice president of Education and Outreach.
“The well-being of our church workers is paramount to the health of the church, ” Pfitzer said, adding that “a comprehensive health and wellness lineup will help engage and educate the workers toward a healthy lifestyle.”
Pfitzer said that, like the general population, church workers can face challenges as they struggle with health issues.
He noted that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 65 percent of Americans are clinically overweight, 31 percent have high blood pressure, and 29 percent have high cholesterol levels.  Pfitzer also pointed out that the Partnership for Prevention says that 33 to 50 percent of all healthcare costs are “due to conditions that are directly impacted by lifestyle choices such as tobacco use, obesity, nutrition, and stress.
“That’s what our health and wellness initiative is all about,” Pfitzer told Reporter.  “It’s making our workers aware that they are in charge of their fitness.  Health and medical decisions should not [only] be the responsibility of a health plan, or insurers, or a medical clinic.  Wellness decisions should also be in the people’s hands.Sanft  We will equip our workers with the best resources available to take control of their lifestyle and be knowledgeable health care consumers.”
“We can do more for our LCMS church workers than providing plan options and paying claims,” said CPS Executive Vice President Jim Sanft.  “We will provide the tools to answer medical questions and maintain their health so that the member can stay focused on his or her mission and ministry.”
Sanft noted that the approach of the new wellness programs is “to help church workers understand health risks in order to make lifestyle changes to reduce avoidable claims.”
Pfitzer indicated that “the key diagnostic component” of the new programs is the Health Risk Assessment, which he describes as “an online scientific tool that produces a personalized report card about the participant’s health status.  Most importantly, it makes the participant aware of any health risks that could become serious medical problems if conditions don’t change.
“We would love to have all church workers in our health plans take the assessment as early in March as possible,” Pfitzer continued, “so that they can see their health status for themselves.  It’s a simple way to do a check-up on yourself.  Best of all, it’s free and confidential.”
Sanft said that besides encouraging healthier church workers, such wellness programs are good stewardship.
“Concordia Plan Services is confident that these programs will make the health plan more affordable by keeping health costs contained,” Sanft said.  “We see the connection, and we pray others will as well.  Healthier workers mean fewer physician and hospital visits, which translates to fewer health claims.  That, in turn, helps to control insurance costs and contribution rates for our employers.  Everybody wins.”
Nanette Rasmussen, actuary for CPS, said that costs for the Concordia Health Plan mirror medical costs nationwide.  She added that the CHP spent $161 million on health claims in 2005, and that claims for 2006 could cost it as much as $200 million.
“The startling news,” Rasmussen said, “is that when we looked at our claims during a 20-month period, we found that CHP paid more than $67 million in what are called ‘avoidable’ or ‘modifiable’ conditions.”
In the coming months, CPS plans to distribute more information about the new health and wellness programs to workers and employers participating in the Concordia Health Plan.

Posted Oct. 26, 2006

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