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By Meg Major
Kansas City, Mo.-based Balls Food Stores – which operates supermarkets under the Price Chopper and Hen House banners – has been named as one of the 20 Healthiest Employers in the Kansas City area by the Kansas City Business Journal for its wellness and disease self-management Start Now program.
Balls’ Start Now offers disease management programs for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as programs for lifestyle changes of weight management and smoking cessation. The program’s foundation is built on aligned incentives designed to encourage teammates to begin and continue participation.
To that end, Balls Food Stores structured its health plan to financially reward teammates who choose to demonstrate good health behaviors, such as annual biometric screenings
“Like many companies, Balls Food Stores was faced with ever-increasing healthcare costs and needed a plan to impact this trend,” said David Ball, president and CEO of Balls Food Stores. "We felt we could take steps to impact our employees by focusing on wellness initiatives and disease self-management education for conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, smoking, obesity, and asthma. Not only has the Start Now program proven to be financially beneficial to our teammates, it’s also improved their health and well-being.”
The program is also helping the 28-store regional retailer drive down costs. Last year, the average Balls’ teammate completing the Start Now requirements saved a substantial amount in premium discounts when compared to someone not participating in the program.
Balls currently provides a prescription delivery service to Deffenbaugh Industries and, based on proven outcomes, is looking to offer components of the Start Now program to other Kansas City companies.
In addition, Balls’ teammates who are targeted for specific wellness services, such as diabetes self-management education, also receive additional incentives in the form of medication co-pay discounts when they participate. Employees who choose not to participate in healthy behaviors do not receive these discounts, and in effect take on a larger share of their own healthcare costs.
In 2013, as part of Start Now’s disease self-management education and treatment plan optimization, Balls provides pharmacist-led coaching and care for teammates with conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A comprehensive smoking cessation education program and annual biometric testing for teammates are also features of the Start Now program. Vaccinations including flu, shingles and pneumococcal shots are administered by all of Balls’ in-store pharmacies to both teammates and the public.
“Since we started the Start Now program in 2008, it has been instrumental in helping to identify employees who might not know they have indications of a chronic disease,” explained Ball. “With prevention and early detection, their education on the condition can begin prior to the onset of complications.”
The success of the program has been so great that Balls Foods is extending Start Now to other organizations that want to encourage employees to adopt good health behaviors and drive down health care costs.
“We’re proud that Balls Food Stores was named one of Kansas City’s 20 Healthiest Employers,” Ball said. “Our goal is to continue to provide the best possible health and wellness programs for our teammates and employees of other companies who want to leverage the success of the Start Now program.”
The third-generation family-owned supermarket chain is comprised of 28 grocery stores operating under both the Hen House and Balls Price Chopper banners.Founded by Sidney and Mollie Ball, the Ball family has been an integral part of the Kansas City grocery scene for more than 90 years.