Entering its fifth year, BeWell, a campus incentive program to encourage healthy lifestyles for community members, has expanded to offer financial benefits to spouses and registered domestic partners of University benefits-eligible employees. In addition, BeWell has started offering employee participants the option of sharing and exchanging their BeWell records with those from an outside medical plan.
Stanford’s BeWell program provides participating University employees with yearly fiscal incentives, advising, nutrition workshops, gym memberships, classes and other services to help them make healthy decisions, thereby hoping to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Undergraduates and graduate students can also use BeWell to track their health progress and participate in events, but do not receive financial incentives.
Spouses and registered domestic partners will not have access to “BeWell Berries,” a package of benefits including a yearly fitness assessment and classes, offered to employees in addition to the lifestyle assessment and financial incentives that make up the core of the program.
“It would be great to see the at least 50 percent of [participating] employees with spouses or registered domestic partners participating in the program,” said Jennifer Sexton, director of fitness and wellness programs, about the new initiative. “We had over 6,300 faculty and staff complete the SHALA and Wellness Profile in 2011.”
Sexton noted that the number of spouses and registered domestic partners expected to enroll is uncertain.
“We’d love to see the same participation rate with the faculty and staff, just under 50 percent, but I don’t know how many people who qualify have a spouse or partner,” Sexton said. “If we saw half of the 6,300, it would be great.”
BeWell encourages Stanford employees to send in their medical information on a yearly basis by increasing the fiscal incentive for returning participants. First time participants receive $200 for completing the Stanford Health and Lifestyle Assessment (SHALA) and Wellness Profile. A returning participant who completed SHALA and the Wellness Profile for 2011 qualifies to receive $480 after completing this year’s profile.
In previous years, these benefits and fiscal incentives have only been made available to Stanford employees, but BeWell has changed its policy to also benefit the spouses and domestic partners of these employees. Qualifying spouses and registered domestic partners must complete three requirements to receive the $240 taxable wellness reward in 2013. BeWell requires that spouses or partners complete the SHALA and Wellness Profile, agree to share information in 2012 and enroll in a Stanford-sponsored medical plan in 2013.
The BeWell mission is to serve “as the overarching health and wellness resource for Stanford University,” according to the program’s website. In its mission statement, the program states that “by facilitating a culture of wellness at Stanford, we encourage individuals to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle and behaviors to improve their health, well-being and quality of life.”
BeWell approaches the question of how to stay healthy by personalizing its resources to address the employee’s individual needs. Participating employees must first fill out the health and lifestyle assessment, which serves as the “gateway to the BeWell program.” BeWell reports that the assessment is not meant to be time-consuming, and takes on average 20 minutes to complete. Only after the employee has completed the SHALA profile can he or she move on to fill out the Wellness Profile.
The Wellness Profile consists of three components, which include a screening, followed by advising and finally a planning stage. Once employees have undergone their screening, they are provided with a free one-to-one advising session. Participants meet with wellness advisors who tailor the program to the individual, considering data such as total cholesterol, HDL, glucose, body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure.