Humana on track to improve employee health by the end of 2017

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As part of Humana’s “Bold Goal” initiative, the health insurance company is focusing on improving the health of not only its members but also its employees.

The U.S. initiative aims to make Humana’s members 20% healthier by 2020, and internally, to make 50,000 Humana employees healthier by the end of the year, according to the company’s 2017 progress report.

“If you look at people who work inside the healthcare industry, they’re not generally healthier than the average population,” says Tim State, vice president of associate health and well-being for Humana.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based healthcare insurer looked at their employees on multiple dimensions to determine the best way to have them tackle lifestyle and behavioral changes, such as enrolling them in established Humana programs and services.

Since 2012, Humana has seen the rate of active employee engagement with its wellness platform nearly triple from 28% to upward of 80%, says State.

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The company also determined that employees were more likely to reach their health goals if they felt that their supervisors or managers cared about their well-being.

For the employees who have been with Humana since 2012, when the company began to look at the health risks that lead to chronic illnesses, 40% saw reduced modifiable health risks like lower blood pressure or glucose levels, says State.

Another 30% of the employees maintained their levels of risk, which becomes harder to do as people age, says State.

“Everyone’s journey looks a little different and we set goals around those things,” he says.

Humana uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Healthy Days” metric, a set of four questions to determine an employee’s perceived health over a 30-day period, to benchmark community health and measure progress in terms of “unhealthy days.”

Humana employees reported a 14.75% decrease in unhealthy days, from 6.1 days in 2012 to 5.2 days in 2016, according to the report.

“For the working-age population, emotional healthy days are more challenging than the physical ones,” says State. “Stress reduction and building resilience is very important.”

State says the company’s employees are expected to reach 4.9 unhealthy days — the “Bold Goal” target — by the end of 2017.

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