UK Workers Have Way to Improve Health

Contact: Kathy Johnson

 

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“WOW is similar to the statewide ’Get Moving Kentucky’ program, which we helped develop. We feel that ’Get Moving Kentucky’ is an important initiative, and our latest effort with WOW reinforces the university’s commitment to improving the health of Kentuckians.“

-- David Hoke,
director,
UK Health Literacy Project

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 22, 2004) -- The University of Kentucky continues to aggressively develop and implement a variety of initiatives to improve employees’ health and limit cost increases of health insurance. Reflecting a three-year trend, the cost of UK’s self-funded health benefits plan has increased by 6.1 percent in the 2003-2004 year, substantially below the national average increase of 10.2 percent.

“This trend is contrary to that of many employers in both the overall plan performance and the impact on UK employees. It represents the third year in a row that university employees will see no significant increase in their contribution to health benefits,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr.

The latest in a series of programs designed to help UK employees manage and improve their health is “Well On your Way,” or WOW as it is called. WOW is an incentive-based program whereby employees earn wellness credits by practicing healthful behaviors. When a participant earns a pre-determined number of wellness credits, he or she receives an incentive award.

“WOW is similar to the statewide ’Get Moving Kentucky’ program, which we helped develop,” said David Hoke, director of the UK Health Literacy Project, the umbrella initiative for several health-improvement programs. “We feel that ’Get Moving Kentucky’ is an important initiative, and our latest effort with WOW reinforces the university’s commitment to improving the health of Kentuckians.“

WOW participants can enter information about their healthful behaviors into an online program that will convert those behaviors into wellness credits and track the accumulation of credits. Participants can win such items as pedometers, T-shirts and water bottles for wellness milestones, and for those who reach a certain level, they can become eligible for a major prize drawing at the end of the year.

Hoke said the number of Americans who practice healthful behaviors on a regular basis is shrinking. “Less than 25 percent of Kentuckians get enough physical activity, and more than half of Americans are obese. However, our health care system focuses on reversing the effects of disease, rather than preventing disease through healthful behavior,” Hoke said.

Todd said he is pleased with the UK Health Literacy initiatives. “Thousands of employees are taking a more proactive approach to their health through these initiatives, benefiting them both health wise and through stable employee health benefits costs,” he said. “The cost containment of health benefits is essential to the University of Kentucky and one of several measures implemented at UK to improve the efficiency of operation.”

WOW joins a series of health initiatives including UK Healthtrac Rewards, Pharmacy REACH ,and BeH.I.P. in an effort to control health care costs. More information is available at the Health Literacy Project Web site.


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