• Premera Blue Cross and American Heart Association Launch Nation’s First Fit-Friendly Companies Mentor Program for Seattle Area Businesses

    Innovative program features tools and coaching for companies wanting to create a culture of health for its employees

    Mountlake Terrace and Seattle, WASHINGTON - (April 23, 2012) - Premera Blue Cross and the American Heart Association (AHA) are pleased to announce the nation’s first Fit-Friendly Companies Mentor Program, developed to educate Pacific Northwest businesses on how to make their employees’ health a top priority. The program will help companies develop or enhance their employee wellness programs by partnering them with mentor organizations, such as Premera Blue Cross, who have been recognized by the AHA Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition Program. Additionally, Vivacity*, a leader in providing workplace wellness tools and programs to employers nationwide, and which partners with Premera on the administration of its wellness program, will provide added support to participants in the AHA Fit-Friendly Companies Mentor Program with resources to help them enhance their employee wellness programs.

    Over the course of the one-year program, which kicks off this month, mentor companies will evaluate mentees’ existing workplace wellness programs and share ideas that might benefit these organizations as they look to build or update their wellness practices. The mentorship will also help interested companies complete the application process to become recognized through the AHA Fit-Friendly Companies Program. Premera Blue Cross is a Platinum Achiever in the Fit-Friendly Companies Program. Called Health 365, Premera’s employee wellness program provides a variety of opportunities for employees to enhance their health. Wellness tools include healthy cooking classes, gym membership discounts and a “Ride On!” bicycle program that allows employees to check out company-provided bicycles on their lunch and work breaks. The program also offers financial incentives to employees who track their wellness activities online through the company’s wellness portal.

    “We have a passion about building a culture of health in the workplace. The value is multi-fold for Premera and its employees – both personally and professionally,” said Marcia Ridley, vice president, total rewards at Premera Blue Cross. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the AHA to help others in the region learn what we have learned through our own workplace wellness programs. It is said that healthy employees tend to be happier and more productive. We have also confirmed that these programs are working, as Premera employees not only lost a combined 2 ½ tons the first year, but have slowed their healthcare trend significantly due to the programs.”

    As part of the program, which is sponsored by Premera Blue Cross, companies can help mentees complete the application process to become an AHA Fit-Friendly Company. Designed to be a catalyst for change in American business, the AHA Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition Program acknowledges employers who champion the health and wellness of their staff by meeting criteria outlined by the AHA at various levels. This includes offering physical activity programs within the workplace, providing healthy eating options at the worksite, promoting a wellness culture, and demonstrating measurable outcomes. The. initiative, that aims to help people understand the link between their health and their risk for heart disease and stroke.

    Fit Friendly Company program is part of the AHA’s comprehensive new My Heart. My Life“We look forward to collaborating with Premera Blue Cross to kick off the Fit-Friendly Companies Mentor Program.” said Rebecca Weaver, executive director for Puget Sound at the American Heart Association. “Premera’s Health 365 program is a great example of a successful employee wellness program, and mentees will learn from Premera and other Fit-Friendly Companies who serve as mentors in the program. We hope this program is something that the AHA can replicate in other markets across the country.”

    Companies interested in participating in the AHA Fit-Friendly Mentor program, are encouraged to contact Cherish Hart, senior community health director with the AHA, at 206-834-8638 or cherish.hart@heart.org. Information can also be found at http://www.heart.org/ahapugetsound under My Heart. My Life 

    *Vivacity is not licensed by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

    About Premera Blue Cross

    Premera Blue Cross is a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, providing comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to more than 1.4 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies. Premera is committed to providing its members peace of mind about their healthcare coverage. The company offers innovative health and wellness solutions focused on quality outcomes for patients and controlling costs. Premera Blue Cross, which has operated in Washington since 1933, is a not-for-profit, 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, providing health, life, vision, dental, stop-loss, disability, workforce wellness and other related products and services. The family of companies employs approximately 3,000 people and provides healthcare coverage and related services to 1.7 million members. Please visit www.premera.com and www.PremeraNews.com for more information. 

    About the American Heart Association

    The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke — America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or join us, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or any of our offices around the country, or visit heart.org.