Local News

N.C. Offering Incentives For State Workers To Kick Bad Habits

Posted May 19, 2004 3:46 a.m. EDT

— The health of state employees has a direct affect on your wallet. North Carolina spent more than $1 billion from the last budget to provide health insurance. That bill could jump by $370 million if workers do not improve their health. The state is now offering incentives to kick unhealthy habits.

According to a recent survey, a healthy state employee costs the state about $800 a year while an unhealthy state employee costs more than $7,000.

"We need to do something to get control of the cost and in doing so, it seems we have to do something to encourage our employees to live a healthier lifestyle," said Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland.

The incentive would come by way of a monthly charge. State employees would pay a portion of their health insurance premium each month, but they would get discounts for healthy habits.

"If you say I'm going to exercise. I'm going to stop smoking. If you follow a positive health regimen, you can earn back that money," said Jack Walker, state health plan administrator.

Wondelon Bennett said the incentive would work for her.

"I am borderline high blood pressure, so I'll just work on eating right and eating healthy," Bennett said.

Any change in monthly premiums for state employees would not come this year. Officials said it would be next year at the earliest.

Gov. Mike Easley declared September 2004, "

Healthy North Carolina Month

," but that does not mean you have to wait until then to get started. He is urging every North Carolinian to participate in wellness activities, using workplace wellness programs and benefits available through their health insurance programs and participating in disease screening and detection events.