NHBR's Health Innovator Award: Tracy Beane, Stonyfield Farm

By practicing what it preaches, Stonyfield Farm has been recognized by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England and NHBR as the latest winner of Health Innovator Award honors.

Londonderry-based Stonyfield, nationally known for its line of organic yogurts, has embraced healthy thinking and acting on it since its founding in 1983. As part of that long-term effort, Stonyfield at the start of the year launched its wide-scale "Fit on the Farm" program – "an investment in employee health and well-being," said Tracy Beane, human resources program manager at Stonyfield. The Fit on the Farm program includes a wellness credit program for employees who choose a high-deductible insurance plan that can lead to as much as $1,000 per employee (or $2,000 per family) toward deductible expenses. The program rewards employees for being active, eating healthy, getting screened, taking annual physicals, quitting smoking and other choices.

Q. What exactly is Fit on the Farm?

A. It brings together all of Stonyfield's programs that support employee health and well-being. It includes quit-smoking programs fully paid by the company for the employee and their spouse or domestic partner. We offer paid memberships for all employees to The Executive Health and Sports Center, eight-week paid sabbaticals after five years with the company, alternative medicine coverage covering acupuncture, hypnotherapy, naturopathic and others up to $500 annually and the newest addition, our Wellness Credits program.

Q. How did the Wellness Credits program emerge?

 A. The design was inspired by an article in a 2009 issue of Harvard Pilgrim's "Your Health." The article was, "Top Five Things You Can Do To Stay Healthy and Prevent Illness," and we used these components as the basis for how we reward our employees. Once an employee has credits awarded, they may use them to offset the cost of expenses applied to their deductible with the high-deductible plan.

Q. How do Wellness Credits work?

A. Having a high-deductible plan along with wellness incentives allows our employees to take a more active role in their health-care decisions – and understand the costs. For example, employees get $250 in wellness credits for doing a health risk assessment – and they get another $100 for discussing their HRA results with their primary care physician. There are also credits for being a non-smoker, or if you quit smoking, weight maintenance and being physically active – not only for the employee but their spouses and family members. These credits are then used to pay for expenses that have been applied to the employees' deductible.

Q. How many people have signed up for the high-deductible plan?

A. In 2009, we had six people, and in 2010 that number has grown to 142. There are a lot of baby steps involved. For example, we were surprised that so many employees weren't getting regular annual physicals. So we offer employees and their families wellness credits for having an annual physical. We have already seen success stories, such as the employee who visited our health fair, got screened and discovered he had very high blood pressure. He hadn't been to a doctor in several years and this gave him the incentive he needed.

Q. What's been your role?

A. Education. Open enrollment meetings were longer because I spent more time explaining our benefits in greater detail to show employees that by going with a high-deductible plan they could save money. Another example is that we have taken year-to-date health risk assessment data and defined our risk areas and developed educational lunch-and-learn sessions to educate employees on these risks.

Q. Does Stonyfield have other health innovations in mind?

A. We've just developed a wellness team to help the program evolve and get more people involved. Our intention is not to sit back and say we're there. Part of our mission at Stonyfield is healthy people – it's important to us to strive for that mission to begin with our employees.

NHBR’s Health Innovator Awards Program is presented in partnership with Harvard Pilgrim

Categories: Health Innovator Awards