• Premera Blue Cross Recognized as an American Heart Association Start! Fit-Friendly Company

    Start! helps companies take steps to decrease healthcare expenses, increase productivity

    MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, WA – (June 5, 2009) – Premera Blue Cross has been recognized as a Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association’s Start! movement for helping employees eat better and move more.

    “Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at Premera Blue Cross. We are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association’s Start! movement as a Platinum-Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company,” said Barbara Magusin, senior vice president, Human Resources. “We’re committed to providing the best workplace environment possible. This will benefit our employees’ health and produce even more positive results for our company overall.”

    Platinum-level employers:

    • Offer employees physical activity options in the workplace
    • Increase healthy eating options at the worksite
    • Promote a wellness culture in the workplace
    • Implement at least nine criteria outlined by the American Heart Association in the areas of physical activity, nutrition and culture
    • Demonstrate measurable outcomes related to workplace wellness

    Beyond the work it did to achieve last year’s recognition, Premera took the additional following actions to help create a true culture of health among our associates:

    • Launched the Premera Health Improvement Award incentive program to encourage a healthy BMI
    • Selected a new food services vendor that provides organic, locally grown, healthy options. At least 25% of all food service choices follow certain guidelines for healthy nutrition
    • Launched talkhealth, an internal wellness blog, to provide a forum for associates to share and discuss their journey toward health in a community setting
    • As part of these efforts, participation by Premera associates in biometric screening increased 113% over the previous year, while participation in an associate program rewarding health activities increased 145%. Participation in organized, on-site walking events also increased 257% in the same time period

    The Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program is a catalyst for positive change in the American workforce by helping companies make their employees’ health and wellness a priority.

    American employers face increasing healthcare expenses and health-related losses in productivity that cost an estimated $225.8 billion a year. Many American adults spend most of their waking hours at sedentary jobs. Their lack of physical activity raises their risk for a host of medical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Employers face $12.7 billion in annual medical expenses due to obesity alone. Start! helps change corporate cultures by motivating employees to start walking, which has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.

    Recognition is a critical component of the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program. Employers that join this program qualify for official recognition by the American Heart Association. They are listed on the program’s national Web site. Qualifying companies also have the right to use the program’s annual recognition seal for internal communications and with external, recruitment-related communications.

    Participating companies also get free access to program resources such as the free Start! Walking Program, materials to help promote company wellness programs to employees, internal newsletter templates and consultation on CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) programs.

    Start! also offers MyStart! Online, a free Web-based fitness and nutrition tracker for companies and individuals. A “dashboard” feature lets HR or wellness managers view employee participation in Start!

    Start! is sponsored nationally by SUBWAY® Restaurants, Healthy Choice® and AstraZeneca. For more information about the Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program and how it is helping to improve the health of Americans by focusing on an activity that is convenient, free and easy, call 206-632-6881 or visit startwalkingnow.org.

    About Premera Blue Cross

    Our mission is to provide peace of mind to our members about their healthcare coverage. We provide health insurance and related services to more than 1.5 million people. Premera Blue Cross has operated in Washington since 1933, and Alaska since 1957. Premera Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Premera Blue Cross is a member of a family of companies based in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, that provide health, life, vision, dental, and long-term care insurance, and other related services.