OPM urges FEHB wellness, prevention programs

Friday - 3/25/2011, 1:26pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management is calling for federal employee health insurance carriers to propose more wellness and prevention programs.

The request came in an annual call letter from OPM on Friday for benefit and rate proposals.

"Motivating and sustaining healthy behavior change is the key to improving the population health, productivity and controlling health care costs," according to the call letter from John O'Brien, OPM's director of health care and insurance.

OPM specifically called for programs to reduce obesity in children and adults. Weight complications can lead to conditions such as diabetes and drive up medical costs. However, obesity is "preventable and treatable," O'Brien writes.

Last year, OPM had encouraged enrollees to complete a Health Risk Assessment to track their own health. In Friday's letter, OPM requested carriers to offer an HRA tool in 2012.

In remarks Thursday at the FEHB Carrier Conference in Washington, D.C., OPM Director John Berry said FEHB is entering a "new era."

"In our government-wide responsibility for wellness and work-life, we have worked with all major federal agencies to increase the scope, intensity and quality of worksite wellness programs," Berry said.

He added, "Much of the benefit - both to our beneficiaries' health and everyone's bottom line - will not be realized immediately. But over the course of millions of lives, it will be incalculable."

RELATED STORY

OPM advocates for innovations to FEHB