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Leading by Example: Blue Care Network of Michigan Shows How Employers Can Improve Employee Wellness

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Nov. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- In keeping with its commitment to wellness, and following advice it gives to other businesses, Blue Care Network of Michigan, a leading HMO in the state, is building a culture that promotes health and wellness among its own employees at the workplace.

BCN, which is the HMO affiliated with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, earlier this year instituted Wellness Works!, an employee health and fitness program for its own employees who work in offices across the state. The program has made several changes to promote wellness in BCN's work environment:
* At BCN's Southfield offices, the cafeteria vendor lowered by 25 percent

the price of 10 healthy items, including vegetables and fruits, and

raised the price of its 10 unhealthiest foods.

* Many candy bars in BCN vending machines vanished, replaced with

healthier choices.

* A six-month competition encouraged employees to walk and take part in a

weight loss challenge. A total of 817 employees, or 65 percent of the

BCN workforce, participated in the challenges. They walked 344,725

miles - equivalent to 14 trips around the Earth - and lost 2,100


* Pedometers were provided to all employees signed up for the walking


* Employee health fairs have been held every six months.

* Automatic blood pressure machines are now in all BCN facilities. "Wellness Works! helps our employees maintain and improve their health," said Pam Reinert, BCN director of quality management. "Wellness Works! also helps us walk our talk. We're proving that what we encourage other companies to do can be done: offering employees physical activity support, creating healthy eating options and promoting a culture of wellness."

Signs that BCN's Wellness Works! program is indeed working are the results from its inaugural statewide walking and weight loss competitions. Best results were achieved by Lansing resident Rosanne Parker who dropped three dress sizes by losing more than 60 pounds, or more than 25 percent of her body weight, and by Donna Hatfield of Laingsburg who logged 2,207 miles.

The American Heart Association recently recognized BCN's program as a gold-level Fit Friendly Company in its 2007 Start! challenge. AHA recognizes companies that demonstrate commitment to promoting exercise and good nutrition in the workplace. Gold-level companies have met AHA criteria for offering employees physical activity support, increasing healthy eating options at work and promoting a wellness culture.

BCN not only has taken steps to help employees lead healthier lifestyles, it was the first health plan in Michigan to introduce a product that rewards members for committing to healthier lifestyles. Last year BCN introduced its innovative Healthy Blue Living(SM) product which rewards both employers and members for attempting to meet healthy lifestyle goals.

Blue Care Network of Michigan and its subsidiaries have more than 660,000 members. Blue Care Network features award-winning disease management programs and the largest HMO network of physicians and hospitals in the state, with more than 3,800 primary care physicians, 9,700 specialists and 120 hospitals. Blue Care Network is the affiliated HMO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For further information, visit

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
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