The growing popularity of programs to help improve health and well-being is especially seen during fall’s open enrollment period when millions of Americans select or switch their health benefits for next year.
Forty-seven-year-old Jamie Harrigan, who works at St. Louis’ MTM, a non-emergency medical transportation company, is one of those employees who sought out a program offered by her employer’s UnitedHealthcare plan at no additional cost to help her get back on track.
She set a goal to fit back into one of her favorite dresses, which she had worn at a company holiday party a few years ago, and began efforts to focus on her fitness. With the help of Real Appeal, a personalized, online weight loss program offered by UnitedHealthcare, she and more than 100 fellow employees saw dramatic results.
“I believe that employers are the new communities for people and that they need information from their employers on how they can live a healthier and happier life. So, it's not just that you are going to save potentially healthcare dollars down the road, you're also getting a level of employee engagement because they're very excited that their company cares about them as a person, too,” said Alaina Macia, MTM’s CEO.
Real Appeal uses personal coaches and offers convenient tracking tools designed to help motivate people to adopt healthier behaviors that may help reduce obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In total, more than 100 MTM employees participating in Real Appeal lost a collective 2,000 pounds in the first 18 months of offering the program. Within the first six months, Jamie had lost 25 pounds by tracking her food, trying new recipes, exercising every day and giving up her habit of drinking up to eight sodas a day.
“I have self-confidence back. I feel better about myself. I feel better in my clothes. It's really been fun,” Jamie said.
Jamie reports she can almost fit into that special holiday dress, a goal she is now certain she will achieve.
In addition to Real Appeal, UnitedHealthcare offers a variety of other programs to incentivize employees and their families to improve their health. Wellness and other benefits options may help incentivize members to lower their cholesterol, lose weight, quit smoking, or even visit a gym.