July brings new incentives for healthy lives

Posted 7/6/09

With the rising costs of health care coverage, employers are looking for ways to reduce costs and make health coverage more affordable. When …

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July brings new incentives for healthy lives


With the rising costs of health care coverage, employers are looking for ways to reduce costs and make health coverage more affordable.

When employees covered under a health plan lead healthy lifestyles and engage in wellness and disease prevention activities, their need for health care and the costs of their health care are reduced.

In turn, the entity providing the health care coverage benefits from reduced utilization rates and costs.

Thanks to House Bill 1012, sponsored by Littleton Rep. Joe Rice and Sen. Linda Newell, all of that will be a whole lot easier.

Starting July 1, insurance companies will be allowed to offer discounts and incentives to small business and their employees who participate in health and wellness programs. Insurers are currently prohibited from offering incentives even to small businesses that want access to health plans with financial and health rewards. This will also promote both personal responsibility and lower insurance premiums.

“This will help the employer minimize absenteeism, increase productivity and reduce health care costs,” Newell said. “It will also help the employee control his or her own health care costs and have a better chance of better health. Healthy communities mean healthy workers and a healthy economy.”

Some examples of “wellness and prevention programs” cited in the bill include health screenings, health club or fitness center memberships, stress management programs, health fairs, diabetes care programs and tobacco cessation.

House Bill 1012 was one of several health care bills signed by Governor Bill Ritter this legislative session.

He also signed the Colorado Healthcare Affordability Act — a historic act that will provide health coverage to more than 100,000 uninsured Coloradans, and House Bill 1103, allows patients in need of long-term care to be presumptively eligible for Medicaid, which will save costs and improve patients' quality of life. The bill was co-sponsored by Newell.

“This legislation will help employers maintain a healthy workforce, and it will encourage employees to take personal responsibility for their health by participating in wellness programs,” Ritter said at the signing ceremony at the Buck Recreation Center in April. “It also comes at a time when we need our workforce to be healthy and strong to lead Colorado forward.”

“Providing incentives for wellness is a common sense idea that benefits our health and our pocketbooks. Employees will be healthier and employers can increase productivity, all while reducing health care costs. Now that’s a win-win,” Rice said.

Another bill (Senate Bill 47) sponsored by Newell which also goes into effect July 1, establishes a Crime Victim Services Advisory Board in the Division of Criminal Justice.

It had unanimous, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate this year.

Senate Bill 47 provides a strengthened crimes victim advisory system and a greater community around those who have been a victim of crime. It combines several existing crime-victim-related boards into a single advisory board. The consolidation will streamline the process of applying for funding for crime victims by reducing the number of entities to which applicants must submit documentation, simplify the process overall and gain better consistency of grant recipients.

“We’ll be able to improve services to victims with less bureaucracy,” Newell said. “That is the best way to deliver help to those who need it.”


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