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July 6, 2011, 1:30 p.m. CT

Jen Rae Hein, Gov's Office
Ashley Cradduck, Gov's Office

Gov. Heineman Announces Participation in State Wellness Plan Reaches 30 Percent

(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman today announced that employee enrollment in the State of Nebraska's wellness program has grown to more than 30 percent for FY 2011-12 and met recruitment goals for employee participation. Participation for FY 2010-11 was around 25 percent.

"We continue to receive good feedback about our wellness plan and the increased in participation is more good news," Gov. Heineman said. "Wellness is a partnership and I want to thank everyone who is helping create a culture of wellness for state government."

A total of 3,915 people, or more than 30 percent of state employees receiving health insurance benefits, are currently enrolled in the Wellness PPO plan. The state created a wellness-oriented health insurance plan in 2009, known as the Wellness PPO, and paired it with educational programs promoting wellness and healthy lifestyles for state employees. In 2010, the wellness program was expanded to include employee spouses.

To date, an additional 1,427 state employees and spouses are participating in the educational programs offered as part of WellnessOptions for a total of 5,342 participants.

Employees who complete one educational coaching program will be eligible to enroll in the Wellness PPO next year. Employees have until March 30, 2012 to qualify for enrollment in next year's wellness insurance plan.

Areas of progress reported in 2010 include: an 11 percent improvement in employees reporting increased physical activity and a 19 percent increase in employees getting preventative screenings. Additionally, more participants reported eating more fruits and vegetables, and fewer participants reported tobacco use, stress and depression.

The state contracts with an independent provider to help ensure the privacy of individual employees. Information shared as part of health coaching programs is kept strictly between individuals and HealthFitness Corp. representatives. Only aggregate information is reported to the state to gauge the success of WellnessOptions and to help develop priorities for improving workplace wellness.

Nebraska was the first state to offer state workers a comprehensive plan for health insurance designed to encourage wellness and healthy lifestyles. Earlier this year, the state's wellness program received the Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America, which outlines rigorous criteria for gauging the success of wellness programs. Nebraska is one of only two states to win the award.


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