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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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November 19, 2008

Staying healthy

Nearly three weeks ago I attended another meeting of the ELCA Board of Pensions trustees in Minneapolis so I could report on their actions . Much of the time in their meetings is spent discussing what's coming up in two important and huge fields: health care and pension plans. The board administers the health plan and the retirement plan for rostered leaders and other employees of the ELCA.

Let me go on record to say how proud I am that our church, through its health plan, is leading the way in having moved from a sickness model (paying people for treatments when they're ill) to a wellness model (giving incentives for programs that keep us healthy and well and paying for preventive medical procedures and treatments). I have long thought it made no sense to wait till we're ill and then spend phenomenal amounts to try get us back to health again.

Those on the ELCA health plan get to take a Health Risk Assessment, earning wellness dollars through that and any follow-up activities—dollars that apply to our medical expenses. In addition, we are offered the opportunity to have some coaching, whether in stress relief, weight management or some other area. People pay big bucks for that out in the real world! And good news for congregations and sponsoring organizations: There's money to be saved when your employees take the assessment. See the BOP Website for information. 

I took my HRA this year and plan to do so again next year. I also did follow-up activities, earning more wellness dollars. And why not? In addition, I took advantage of a coach, with whose help I've lost several pounds. Hey, what's not to like about this?

I hope more businesses and organizations move toward a wellness model in health-care coverage. It just makes sense.  I also hope this country can get more people covered by health-care plans. It is a blessing to have coverage—one I do not take for granted.

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