Wellness Edition, Number 4

In This Issue

 

Wellness Q & A with Bob Seligson, NCMS

CHOICES recently sat down with Robert W. Seligson, Executive Vice President/CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS), to discuss the importance of workplace wellness programs. The NCMS has approximately 40 employees located in Raleigh and provides health insurance to its employees through the NCMS Plan.

CHOICES: As an organization, what is the North Carolina Medical Society’s position on workplace wellness programs?

Mr. Seligson: The NCMS has long promoted healthy lifestyle programs for North Carolina’s citizens. Our members and their staffs see everyday the impact of unhealthy lifestyles on their patients. We believe that effective wellness programs lead to better lifestyle choices, which in turn lead to a healthier population.

CHOICES: Are there particular wellness programs that the NCMS promotes?

Mr. Seligson: The NCMS has adopted several resolutions supporting a tobacco-free society; I believe that North Carolina Prevention Partners is one of several organizations in the state that do a particularly good job of promoting tobacco-free workplaces. We also support the Healthy Carolinian program, Be Active North Carolina, and the Senior Games of North Carolina, among others.

CHOICES: And as an employer, what efforts has the NCMS made to promote wellness?

Mr. Seligson: As CEO of the NCMS, I try to lead by example. Personally, being fit and healthy is critical. Working in health care is a stressful and challenging environment, whether you work for a medical practice or an organization like the NCMS. I would not be able to keep up with the pace of changes in health care if I didn’t pay attention to my physical health with exercise and moderation.

I believe strongly in promoting wellness concepts to our employees. The NCMS is a tobacco-free organization and we have started a staff wellness committee. Some changes we are making include offering healthy snack options in our vending machines and establishing guidelines for healthy catering options when we have meetings here in the office. This year we are rewarding all employees who complete a personal Health Risk Assessment by increasing the value of their health benefits. Next, we will complete a Healthy Workplace Assessment provided by North Carolina Prevention Partners to help us identify areas for improvement that we can focus on as our next steps. One of my personal goals in this area is to motivate our employees to live fit lifestyles, with the ultimate goal of increasing the quality of their lives.

CHOICES: What resources has the NCMS utilized in developing its workplace wellness program?

Mr. Seligson: Some of the work has been done by our staff; ultimately you have to have buy-in and support from the employees to make this successful. We also had significant support from the NCMS Employee Benefit Plan in this effort. They worked with our human resources department to develop an internal action plan and they have conducted on-site educational sessions for our staff about the resources they offer to support healthy lifestyles. These services are provided at no extra cost. I consider this to be a valuable part of our Plan. The NCMS Plan is also committed to supporting our efforts on a long-term basis. Overall, our efforts so far have required an investment of time and energy rather than dollars from our limited budget. I hope that this effort will yield solid results as an investment both in the health of our employees and ultimately our bottom line in terms of savings of health care dollars. The more money we can save on our health care costs, the more we can invest in our employees in other ways.

CHOICES: What does the NCMS hope to accomplish by promoting wellness programs in its workplace?

Mr. Seligson: In the short-term, we want to have healthy and productive employees that are prepared to meet the objectives of the NCMS. In the long-term, I expect to see a return on this investment by helping to control future healthcare costs and reducing absenteeism. Our workload doesn’t change when employees are out sick—we are still accountable for meeting our goals and objectives. We are more efficient and successful when our employees are both physically and mentally healthy and prepared to do their best at work.

CHOICES: How does the current debate in this country about health system reform affect employee wellness programs?

Mr. Seligson: In the health system reform debate, one area that everyone agrees upon is that Americans must make better lifestyle choices in order to decrease health costs and medical spending. As employers, this is key considering the significant budget dollars we spend on employee benefits. NCMS members know first-hand that we all benefit from healthier lifestyles, regardless of where health system reform takes us as a country. I encourage all of our members to promote healthy lifestyles for their colleagues and staff, as well as their patients.

Online Healthy Living Programs

Many people want to live a healthier lifestyle but are not sure where to start. Your employees could be facing the same challenge. If so, the NCMS Plan has good news. Employees and their family members on the NCMS Plan can participate in several customized programs that are easy to understand, easy to apply and tailored specifically to their needs. These programs also offer interactive tools that can be found online. They include a medical library, exercise videos, calorie counters, recipes and tobacco cessation support. Read on to learn more about the five Online Healthy Living programs. Employees and covered family members can sign up for one or all of them…at no charge!

The Balance™ program creates a weight loss and physical activity plan for the specific enrollee.

The Nourish™ program provides enrolled employees with a personalized nutrition program that fits their specific lifestyle.

The Breathe™ program helps create a plan with strategies for decreasing dependency on smoking, dealing with cravings, and quitting for good.

The Relax™ program helps in dealing with the stresses of everyday life—including stress related to work, school, family, health, relationships, and finances.

The Care™ for Your Back program helps tackle the pain, frustration and stress from back pain, and offers advice on how to prevent back injuries.

These Online Healthy Living programs are available through the NCMS Plan and the plan administrator, BCBSNC. Each module provides specialized health content, support tools and educational products that will help your employees learn more about their health. These award-winning programs offer information that is sent just when a boost may be needed.

To enroll in these programs, employees can log on to www.bcbsnc.com and sign on with their user ID and password. If they don’t have a user ID, they can easily register for one. Then choose the Health Programs tab and click on Online Wellness Programs. Next, click on the yellow button to be directed to the Healthy Living Support page. By clicking on the drop down menu, employees can choose which of the five programs they are interested in. Once they select their program, they will be asked to fill out a brief confidential enrollment questionnaire. Soon they will begin receiving supportive information and resources to help them reach their goals.

From all of us at the NCMS Plan, we hope your practice finds these programs helpful and wish you and your employees much success!

For more information about Online Health Living programs or any of the NCMS Plan's employer wellness programs, contact your account representative or call (800) 662-7917.

About the North Carolina Medical Society

As the largest physician organization in the state, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is devoted to representing the interests of physicians and protecting the quality of patient care. The NCMS Plan, sponsored by the NCMS, is the only statewide employee benefits plan designed specifically for North Carolina physicians.

For more information about many other benefits of NCMS membership, visit www.ncmedsoc.org.

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