Wellness Program Leads to Healthier Employees, Healthier Bottom Line

Scripps employees received more than $500,000 in free health insurance in 2008

San Diego – In these tough economic times, Scripps employees can save money on health insurance — and get healthier at the same time — by enrolling in the company’s wellness program.

Since starting an employee wellness program in 2006, 83 percent of the company’s 12,700 employees have enrolled and its success has helped the organization avoid $2.6 million in employee medical and pharmacy costs.

Encouraging healthy life choices

Not only is the program improving Scripps’ bottom line, but employees are also seeing improvements in their health. Compared to non-participants, employees who are highly engaged participants in the wellness plan have 30 percent lower medical and pharmacy costs, a 25 percent reduction in hospital visits, 17 percent fewer emergency room visits and 11 percent fewer prescriptions.

“Employee wellness programs are a win-win for everyone,” said Hamilton Mears, manager of corporate wellness for Scripps. “Healthy employees have less health care needs, miss fewer work days due to illness or injury, and are more productive at work, which is all good for the employer. Employees also reap the benefits. Whether they need to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking or reduce stress, we give them the tools they need to live healthier lives.”

Scripps employee Colene Absalom gave up her lifelong smoking habit thanks to the Scripps Wellness Program. “I started smoking in my teens, so it was extremely rewarding to celebrate my 65th birthday as a non-smoker,” Colene said. “The wellness program has given me a new lease on life.”

Financial incentives, too

In addition to the benefits of improved health, Scripps is putting money in the pockets of wellness program participants. Last year more than 2,800 employees paid nothing to receive employee-only health insurance because Scripps picked up the cost, which was valued at more than $500,000. And thousands of other employees received discounts on health plan premiums for participating in the wellness program.

“Our wellness program works on a credit system and employees are provided with opportunities to earn credits throughout the year,” explained Mears. “Depending on the type of insurance they elect, and how many credits they earn during the year, they may qualify for a discount on health insurance premiums.

“In cases where employees are not participants of our health plan, we give them a cash incentive for completing the wellness program successfully. It’s a pretty remarkable way to reward our employees for taking charge of their health.”

About Scripps Health

Founded in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps Health is a $2 billion nonprofit community health system based in San Diego, Calif. Scripps treats a half-million patients annually through the dedication of 2,600 affiliated physicians and 12,700 employees among its five acute-care hospital campuses, home health care services, and an ambulatory care network of clinics, physician offices and outpatient centers.

Recognized as a leader in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, Scripps is also at the forefront of clinical research and graduate medical education.

In 2008, Scripps committed more than $150 million in capital and facility improvements across the San Diego region while providing significant charity care to the community — more than $268 million in uncompensated care in 2008. Scripps Health Foundation generated $46 million in charitable donations in 2008 to support the Scripps mission.

Contact: Stephanie Grant
Phone: 858-678-6381
E-mail: grant.stephanie@scrippshealth.org