Tulsa-Based Nordam Group Expands Wellness Program after Saving $1M in First Year

Article excerpt

The Nordam Group achieved medical cost savings of more than $1 million under the first year of its wellness program, Chairman and Chief Executive Ken Lackey said Thursday.

The Tulsa manufacturer and supplier of aerospace parts and systems hopes to surpass that this year.

"We're trying to attract a well-educated, productive work force necessary to compete in a competitive business environment," he said. "This is how we get recognized as an employer of choice."

Speaking to a luncheon audience at the University of Oklahoma's Tulsa campus, which was broadcast to the OU Health Sciences Center as part of Oklahoma Wellness Week, Lackey explained how Nordam started the program in 2006 with several key elements:

* Wellness contracts providing up to $200 rebates for participation. Lackey said 466 of Nordam's 2,200 Oklahoma employees (Lackey called them "stakeholders") signed up.

* Several free health screening and immunization programs.

* Providing Weight Watchers programs at work. Through three classes, each covering 15 to 17 weeks, 63 Nordam participants lost 668 pounds.

* Tobacco cessation programs. About 200 workers participated, although Lackey said he couldn't say how many actually gave up smoking.

By the end of the year, without any significant insurance coverage changes, Lackey said Nordam's individual medical costs fell 7.3 percent, even as it added 183 workers to its rolls. It saved $454,000 in medical spending costs.

Since national medical costs rose an estimated 8 percent to 10 percent, Nordam calculated its wellness program represented savings of more than $1 million - at a cost of $91,000.

Lackey said the results so pleased Nordam, the company more than doubled the program's budget this year, to $190,000 - and 250 employees signed contracts in the first quarter.

Added features added to the program included:

* Making Nordam tobacco-free - and not just on company grounds, but along bordering curbs and other areas, so that employees stepping just off the grounds to catch a puff were not at risk of being hit by a passing vehicle.

* Establishing a full-time health coordinator position.

* Boosting the rebate program to $300 while simplifying the contract.

* Adding individual health assessments, with incentives.

* Establishing a database to better track results.

* Improved communications and activities, including health fairs, an intranet site and creation of a sports and athletics panel.

* Encouraging executive leadership through physicals, consultations and individualized health plans. …