For most small businesses, cost is the biggest deciding factor in selecting a health plan. But for this small employer, it was Humana's wellness program that really made a difference. After switching to a new, cheaper plan, "the whole company misses Humana," one leader says.

The business

Based in Paola, Kansas, Reliance Label Solutions provides industrial labels for harsh environment container labeling. With approximately 64 employees, the company has long provided health insurance, and like many small businesses, salaries and benefits represent its largest budget item. At least 90% of employees participate in the health plan.

The challenge

Rising costs were making health benefits increasingly expensive. Reliance leaders warned employees that smoking and other unhealthy behaviors would eventually result in higher individual health costs. "Our insurance broker was using Humana and told us about the positive experience his company had with Humana's wellness plan," says Tammy Judy, controller at Reliance Label.

"We decided that if an insurance company like Humana is giving out incentives for healthy behaviors, those behaviors clearly make a difference in healthcare costs."

Wellness incentives: Healthy behaviors pay off

In 2017, Reliance Label switched to a Humana Level Funded plan, which, like all Humana small group plans, includes the Go365® wellness program. Every employee who participated in Go365 and earned a certain number of points received a significant discount on their premiums. "Boy, did that money talk," Judy says.

Reliance purchased Fitbits® for employees and offered discounts on Fitbits for their family members. The company hosted lunch meetings to discuss health and wellness goals and ran interoffice contests. Employees could earn points by taking a certain number of steps daily, getting health screenings and other healthy behaviors.

Four employees stopped smoking as a result of the program. Through a health screening, one employee learned that he was pre-diabetic. "He changed his diet, started walking all the time, and lost 20 or 30 pounds and is no longer at risk for diabetes," Judy says. "Another woman on my team started walking and doing competitions and lost 50 pounds, which totally changed her life."

Not only were employees engaged in the wellness program, celebrating each other's milestones, but the workplace also became more productive. "Getting up and moving around promotes wellness and makes people happier, it's a mood enlightener," Judy says. "It motivated people and helped them be more productive because they came back fresh."

Why it's important to look beyond the premium cost

Although the Go365 plan was popular and transformative for many employees, Reliance Label switched to a different health insurance company in 2018. "They offered a plan with rates that were impossible to ignore," Judy says.

Because the new health plan doesn't offer a wellness program, many employees have slid back into unhealthy habits. For instance, all four employees who quit smoking last year are now smoking again. "We went from an awesome health and wellness plan with people earning gift cards, everyone motivated and cheering each other on, to having nothing," Judy says.

Additionally, the new health plan "seems to decline more charges, especially prescription drugs, and it’s just not as easy to work with," Judy adds. “The whole company misses Humana. If I had it to do over again, I would stick with Humana."

Humana answers your questions

We’ll help you get the most from your employee benefits

Get started with employee benefits

Help and support

Find tools, answers to frequently asked questions and contact information.

Article library

Get ideas on how your organization can continue to evolve and grow.

Webinars and other resources

View insights and trends in healthcare and workplace organization.