Slashing the cost of healthcare in businesses or public/private organizations—anywhere from 10% to 50%—depending on leadership
J. Morris Hicks — Prepared to help business executives lead their associates in taking charge of their health.
Background. For most businesses in the United States, disease and the cost of health care are huge problems. Not only does “disease care” cost a lot of money, it also takes its toll on employee productivity, creativity, absenteeism and morale. And the numbers are staggering.
According to a Towers Watson survey (See link below) of 512 medium to large American companies, the average total health expenditures per employee in 2011 was $10,982. So for an organization of 1,000 people, that’s an annual medical bill of roughly $11 million, most of which is paid by the company. If you’ve got 10,000 employees, then the bill is about $110 million.
What about traditional corporate wellness programs? Virtually all of the 512 companies in the survey already have a wellness program in place—yet the cost of healthcare keeps going up. That’s because those programs are missing the single most important ingredient—The FOOD. By simply helping people improve what they’re eating, those health care bills can be cut in half. We estimate that for any organization—the cost of health care can be cut by 10 to 50% or more. Why the wide range in the estimate? Leadership. That’s the big variable. The question is:
How important will this health promotion initiative be in your organization?
Leadership is key. We have concluded that the degree of success for this type of project hinges on the understanding and the degree of leadership from the top executive in the organization—the CEO, the President, the mayor or the governor. So we are committed to finding those special business leaders out there who are ready to do something great for their employees, the families of those employees and the bottom line of their business—by teaching everyone in the organization how to take charge of their health.
To see a Fortune 200 company who truly “gets it” about food, scroll to the end of this blog for a compelling five-minute video. John Mackey (CEO), after showing that their annual $200 million cost of healthcare at Whole Foods Market has started dropping since 2010, states, “If a program works—get more of it, and this program works!”
The most important three ingredients for program success: Leadership, Leadership & Leadership
But will the people actually change? It is our experience that when people become educated about the “big picture” impact of their food choices—many of them will voluntarily change—for any number of reasons. But, by offering an opportunity to participate in a well-organized corporate program, the odds of that positive change rise sharply. Five reasons:
- Leadership. With a CEO and executive team that truly “gets it” about food, they are in a position to influence behavior in a group setting. They can also celebrate successes with many forms of positive reinforcement. They can make truly healthy eating an integral part of the company culture.
- Education. The leaders of the enterprise can organize and conduct training far beyond what the employees might do on their own. They can even arrange for that training to be conducted at the place of business—during working hours. Many companies have employee cafeterias that can become a huge asset during the process.
- Peer support. By organizing program participants into groups or teams, each employee will have the benefit of receiving support and encouragement from their teammates—and they will all be accountable to each other.
- Incentives. The CEO has the ability to provide financial incentives to participate and to achieve success. Examples: discounts on company products, lower cost of health coverage, discounts in company cafeteria, and even cash bonuses.
- Green Initiative. Most corporations already have green initiatives but are missing the single biggest opportunity to truly make a difference. This element is a motivator for the individual and is a way for the company to enhance their public image.
Most companies are striving to build their “green” image these days. And there is nothing greener than consuming an earth-friendly, plant-based diet.
More good news. Certainly the opportunity for a medium-sized corporation (10,000 employees) to save $30 or $40 million a year on health costs would be fantastic! But there are other benefits from such a program that might be even more important to the long-term success of the enterprise. For example:
- Less absenteeism
- Higher productivity
- Better morale
- Less employee turnover
- Better public image (most admired, best place to work, greenest company, etc.)
A strategic business advantage. As the first wave of CEOs begins to take advantage of the many benefits that come from a healthier workforce, their primary competitors may have trouble competing with them unless they launch similar initiatives. As such, true health promotion improves the ability of the enterprise to gain market share—yet another reason why it must be led by the CEO. We’re talking about a strategic advantage as powerful as having an automobile company that doesn’t have to pay a dime for all of its steel.
GM spent $4.6 billion on health care in 2007, more than the cost of steel used in their vehicles.
Real world examples. The medical doctors featured in our book have been reversing chronic disease for decades by simply introducing their patients to a health-promoting diet that features mostly whole, plant-based foods, still in nature’s package. But, as we know, you don’t really need to have an M.D. to take charge of your health; you just need to start getting the vast majority of your calories from whole, plant-based foods.
CEO John Mackey is helping his 62,000 employees learn how to take charge of their own health.
Recently, these powerful principles have been harnessed by two very large organizations. The latest one is the City of Chicago, under the leadership of their triathlete mayor, Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff. Now we have two CEO role models for healthy eating; Mr. Emanuel and John Mackey of Whole Foods Market.
- America’s fittest mayor (Chicago) goes PLANT-STRONG! He aims to cut his $480 million healthcare bill in half.
- Promoting health and saving money at Whole Foods Market (Also, there is short video of John Mackey later in this blog.)
- Earlier Case Study at GEICO. The GEICO health promotion project
A little background. For most of my business career, I have been involved in managing change, raising productivity, reducing costs and increasing profits in a host of organizations. As a president, general manager or as a management consultant, I have employed the same “process-improvement” skills to identify waste and increase profitability—in a wide variety of business settings.
I now wish to leverage my business background with more recently acquired knowledge of the whole, plant-based diet-style to help businesses reduce costs and improve productivity. The beauty of this opportunity is the simplicity. In a nutshell, we want to help employees learn the “why” and the “how” for greatly increasing the amount of whole, plant-based foods in their diets. And we want to give them an incentive to move in that direction as rapidly as possible.
The Power of Lifestyle Changes, Social Networks and Love presented by Dean Ornish as endorsed by Bill Clinton