By Thomas Ferraro

At MetLife we believe that good health enables associates to be their best personally and professionally. We’ve made wellness a priority, helping associates modify risk factors and minimize complications of chronic conditions, improving their health while helping us avoid costly medical claims and boost productivity.

Here are two recent examples of actions we’ve taken to support a healthier workforce: We designed our benefits to offer additional support for associates with chronic conditions, and we removed barriers and provided incentives to encourage primary prevention and risk reduction.

Supporting Associates with Chronic Conditions

In 2010, we integrated our disease management programs with the clinical case management services already offered by our national health plan providers, with a goal of engaging more associates and their family members who could benefit from these programs.

As a result, more associates and family members with chronic conditions are receiving education and support to aid in reducing risks and managing their conditions more effectively. These positive changes are helping participants better manage their conditions and this is reflected in their claims. In fact, we’ve seen costs drop substantially for individuals with cancer and circulatory conditions.

Removing Cost Barriers, Enhancing Rewards

In advance of health care reform, MetLife moved to first-dollar coverage for eligible medical preventive care services. Simultaneously, we redesigned our wellness incentives to reward associates for seeking these services. We also added incentives for participating in disease management and clinical care programs.

We are pleased that our approach is working. We have seen higher usage of preventive services, such as annual physicals, screenings and immunizations. Equally important, our engagement surveys tell us associates strongly agree that MetLife provides benefits that they value.