Akron gets $25,000 from insurer to encourage healthy employees

June 09, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night passed legislation authorizing the city to spend a $25,000 gift from Medical Mutual of Ohio to keep city employees healthy.

Medical Mutual, the city's insurer, offered the grant to encourage employees to participate in the program, HealthWorks.Akron, and sign up for confidential online health screenings and health risk assessments, as well as weight loss, physical fitness, healthier eating and smoking cessation programs.

"The idea is to promote wellness so we can prevent health problems before they start and have a healthier, happier staff," said Budget and Finance Committee Chair Tina Merlitti (W-7). "There is a benefit. That's why Medical Mutual encourages wellness programs - to reduce the costs of health care for cities."

Merlitti, who offered the legislation, said Summit County employees may also participate in a similar program.

In 2008, the city's health costs were $27.4 million - about $12,000 per active employee. Of that, the city spent more than $6 million on prescription medications for employees and their dependents - 20 percent of which was spent on drugs prescribed to treat high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension, conditions largely associated with overweight individuals.