Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Conoco, Bracken Reap Benefits from Wellness Programs

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Conoco, Bracken Reap Benefits from Wellness Programs

Article excerpt

Chief executive officers and others, though acutely aware of the increasing percentages of company resources diverted to pay for health care coverage, still don't have a firm grip on all the cost control levers. But they are learning fast.

For perspective, consider that 11 percent of the country's treasure, as measured by the gross national product (GNP), was consumed last year to pay for health care in the United States. Twenty years ago, this figure was less than 7 percent.

And, here, as in other states, business engages in a daily struggle with the forces that conspire to send employees rushing to doctors and hospitals.

According to information released by Presbyterian Hospital, Oklahomans also face the highest worker's compensation costs in a four-state area. That can't be of much comfort in the board rooms.

The average employer in this state is spending about $1,560 a year to buy health insurance coverage for an employee with dependents. When dependents are omitted from coverage, average employee costs for single coverage are reported at $804 a year. National averages are said to be somewhat higher.

Day by day, however, employers are beginning to make inroads on the specter of indigestible costs. That is not to say that all the secrets have been revealed.

What is being more readily understood is the importance of keeping people well and on the job and away from hospitals. Employers, moreover, are turning in greater numbers toward preventive measuresand, the evidence suggests, they are seeing results.

Jerry Bridges, the training and safety coordinator for Conoco's Oklahoma City interests, is among those who applaud efforts to keep the work force healthier and happier.

If employees are healthier, it follows that they will be happier, reasons Bridges.

The next step: happy people are productive.

"And happy people are safer people and have fewer accidents and better morale," he adds. …

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