Health care costs lead companies to push wellness programs for employees

Keeping employees healthy lowers health care costs

DENVER - Companies hoping to cut their health care costs are increasingly looking at adding wellness programs to improve employees' health.

Dr. James Hill of the University of Colorado School of Medicine says various studies have shown the programs can improve employees' fitness and lower health care costs, but employees don't always take advantage of the programs.

Colorado-based TeleTech Holdings Inc. is among companies that have developed a wellness program to help manage health care expenses. Employee Michelle Ebert says it has helped her lose 80 pounds over the last two years.

PCL Construction in Denver offers employees free flu shots, does annual health care screenings on site, helps pay for smoking cessation treatments, provides access to a nutritionist, and gives a partial reimbursement for  gym memberships.

Meanwhile, the company says its health care costs have remained flat due to a combination of factors, including fewer emergency room visits, fewer health claims and changes in the design of health plans.

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