Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia's Wellness Plan Offers a Nudge; State Workers and Retirees Encouraged to Get Healthier

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia's Wellness Plan Offers a Nudge; State Workers and Retirees Encouraged to Get Healthier

Article excerpt

Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA | Georgia taxpayers may one day benefit from a leaner government, and not just from tight budgets, but also from incentives that encourage state workers to get leaner and healthier themselves.

Considering taxpayers annually pony up $3 billion to provide health insurance for 660,000 employees, teachers, retirees and their dependants, even a small percentage in savings amounts to a lot of money. So, the Department of Community Health that runs the State Health Benefit Plan started a wellness program last year to nudge members of the plan to shape up.

So far, half signed on, making it what the department claims is the largest, employer-based wellness program in the nation. In exchange for discounts on premiums and slightly lower co-payment requirements, they agreed to complete an online questionnaire and have a doctor screen them for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and obesity.

"One of the positive aspects of this requirement is that some of our members who had not been to a physician in years, went to a physician for the screening as part of their annual physical," said Trudie Nacin, director of the health plan. "Any of these numbers can be rolled back to the testimonials of how this has changed their lifestyles by knowing their numbers and their journey to lose weight or improve those numbers. …

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