Samaritan Health Services named nation's third healthiest employer

Jan 16,2014

Samarian Health Services has been recognized as being the third Healthiest Employer in the nation, and the only Oregon-based health care system in the top 10, by The Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America program.

In October 2013, Samaritan Health Services was honored by the Portland Business Journal as Oregon’s Healthiest Employer in the 1500+ employee category, making it a semifinalist for the national award.  

“When receiving recognition in October as Oregon’s Healthiest Employer, we knew our investment in developing a new model of integrated, health-focused benefits and wellness programs was something to be very proud of,” said Larry Mullins, president and CEO of Samaritan Health Services. “To learn that we are now the third healthiest employer in the nation tells me we are really on to something.”

Mullins added, “With these new programs we wanted to demonstrate — starting with ourselves — that by moving more dollars toward creating and protecting good health, we can lower the rate our health care costs rise each year. In turn this increases our financial stability and allows us to invest more in our people and the programs that help us achieve our health care mission.”

At the heart of Samaritan’s winning strategy is a commitment to a work environment that values the health, performance and presence of each employee. For example, employees are provided with a bank of $300 dollars to spend on gyms, classes and health-related services, on top of no-cost health plan benefits for preventive care, health coaching, care coordination, nutrition education, tobacco cessation and flu shots. The provision of paid time-off, which gives employees the flexibility to manage their leave for vacations, holidays and sick days, is an added incentive for staying healthy.

In addition to a health-focused environment, Samaritan has asked employees to share responsibility for company resources and be stewards of those resources. For example, employees may have to spend their own money to make up the difference if a particular health service is above a pre-determined reference price. To qualify for lower premium rates, employees must participate in annual health risk assessments and screenings, and are required to meet certain criteria such as regular doctor visits and cancer screenings.  

After just one year, the new health plan and integrated wellness benefits and programs have delivered proof that Samaritan is moving in the right direction: 

  • The overall health of employees has improved, with 19 percent of them moving into lower health risk categories.
  • Worker compensation costs have declined by 5 percent.
  • Health plan claim costs have flat-lined. 

“Along the way, we have also demonstrated that to create a culture of health, we must have a sustained, open dialogue about our company-wide values and beliefs, and align these with our actions,” Mullins concluded. “We must walk the talk.”  

Scoring for the national Healthiest Employers program, sponsored in Oregon by the Portland Business Journal, is conducted by wellness professionals and academics. They rate performance in six key areas of workplace wellness: culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communications and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analysis. The program recognizes small and large companies that proactively shape the health of their employees and make a commitment to impact the health of their workplace and their bottom line.

The Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America honors the “best of the best” employers, those who blaze the path to a healthy workplace for their peers by demonstrating: 

  • Remarkable diversity -Representing employers of all sizes, all regions and all industries, these organizations have comprehensively incorporated the most vital corporate wellness practices.
  • Strategic thought leadership - Demonstrating truly strategic thought leadership and vision regarding their organization’s role within the broader health care environment. These employers have moved beyond healthy living sound bites to the development of a practical, effective and continuously improving framework for creating a sustainably healthy workplace.
  • Exceptional awareness - Displaying deep and detailed insight into their own organizations and their workforces–as well as an equally well-informed understanding of the external business and community factors that influence and respond to the direction and content of their wellness initiatives.

The Healthiest 100 uses a two-part scoring methodology which integrates each semi-finalist’s Healthiest Employer Index with the data provided in a Strategic Wellness Assessment.

See the full list of healthiest employers and learn more about the award at healthiest100.com.