Norwalk Reflector: New program offers free health programs for 'Mom 'n' Pop' stores

New program offers free health programs for 'Mom 'n' Pop' stores

Zoe Greszler • Feb 8, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The backbone of a successful business is its workers, and the backbone of Ohio is its workforce.

That’s the thinking behind Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) in their newest program — Better You, Better Ohio!

Better You is designed to provide health and wellness resources and services to workers who work for small businesses in “high-risk industries.” The work places must have 50 or fewer workers and can include industries such as agriculture, automotive repair and service, construction, firefighters, health care, manufacturing, police and public safety, public employers, restaurant and food service, transportation and trucking, trash collection, wholesale and retail.

Better You, Better Ohio! is designed to help both, workers and their employers at no cost. A recent presentation given at the Huron County Chamber of Commerce highlighted its benefits. 

“It’s for more the Mom ‘n’ Pop’s and things like that,” chamber executive director Kelly Lippus said. “It will track and help you to become a healthier person. There’s an incentive where they’ll actually send you a gift card for signing up.”

Lippus said employers will also receive incentives for each employee that signs up. 

She said she feels it could be “really important” for the county because of its focus on the smaller businesses, something Norwalk has plenty of.

“It helps to give guidelines for the small companies,” Lippus said. “And it does help a lot of things, because it will help cut costs for insurance premiums sometimes if you hold a wellness program.

“With Norwalk’s initiative ‘Live to be a 100,’ this is a really big deal. Don’t reinvent the wheel, reuse it if you can. And if nothing else, these are some really good guidelines. I think in our world we always look in our world.”

According toBWC, Better You, Better Ohio! can 

• Help prevent injuries through improved workforce health and safety

• Reduce absenteeism and improve presenteeism

• Reduce the severity of an injury

• Improve the recovery time from an injury

• Reduce time away from work due to an injury

• Offer health and wellness awareness, education and training

• Give health assessments and biometric screenings for better understanding of health and well-being

• Offers a member engagement website that allows them to develop health plans and track their progress to achieve their health goals and a state-of-the art mobile app for creating weekly action plans and getting health tips;

• Digital coaching to help them on their journey to better health

BWC has also been trying to reduce reduce private employer premium rates on other fronts as well, by seeking to cut them by 12 percent beginning July 1.

If approved, the reduction would save private employers $163.5 million over this year’s premiums, which are already at their lowest rates in at least 40 years.

“Ohio is in an outstanding position as the cost of workers’ comp coverage continues to fall, thanks to fewer workplace injury claims and slow-to-moderate growth in medical inflation,” said BWC administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison. “We know the less employers spend on premiums, the more they can invest in their communities and in safer work environments for their employees. And when that happens, we all benefit.”

BWC experienced 86,290 allowed claims in 2017, a near 18-percent drop from 2011. This is the lowest number of claims dating back to at least 1997, when there were more than 277,000 claims.

Morrison attributes the declining numbers to several factors, including BWC’s efforts to promote safe and healthy workplaces, increased safety funding and more employers putting safety education and resources to work. From 2010 through 2015, BWC's Division of Safety and Hygiene saw a 71-percent increase in the number of employers using its safety programs and services.

BWC’s private employer rates have decreased or remained unchanged every year since 2007, with the last reduction occurring in 2016. Public rates have fallen, too, including a 6.1-percent cut that took effect Jan. 1 this year.

The actual premium paid by individual private employers depends on a number of factors, including the expected future claims costs in their industry, their company’s recent claims history and their participation in various BWC discount programs.

The board is scheduled to vote on the recommendation during its next regular meeting scheduled for Feb. 23.

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