Claire Kelbaugh is excited, and a little stressed. Tomorrow she heads to Houston to make a presentation that could earn her part of a national wellness contract. Right now she's putting together information packets and a PowerPoint presentation.
Kelbaugh is a franchisee for Lotusea, a company that assesses the health of employees and implements wellness programs so employers can reduce insurance costs. She knows firsthand the importance of such a service--before joining Lotusea in 2001, Kelbaugh was an employee benefits consultant and helped companies create benefits packages. Each year, insurance costs would rise, and employers often had to pass those increases onto employees.
"We were seeing average increases on self-insured companies of 30 percent," explains Kelbaugh, 31. "Over time employees were getting less benefits and paying more."
To fight this problem, Kelbaugh began investigating wellness programs. She discovered Lotusea via the Internet, met with founder Sandra Breeding and set up shop in her New Orleans home.
Kelbaugh's clients, whom she finds through both parent-company referrals and cold-calling, are South Louisiana companies that typically have a minimum of 100 employees and are self-insured. They hire her to conduct annual health assessments of their workforce and to offer classes and materials aimed at changing people's lifestyles and improving their health.
Assessments take about 40 minutes and are preceded by lab tests that screen for indicators of health problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Employees review all results with a registered nurse, discuss their personal and family medical history and learn what they can do to prevent illness down the road.
Kelbaugh charges a per person fee for assessments and an hourly fee for consultations, education programs and other services like workstation analysis. "Since we offer such a large variety of services, we are generally able to work with any company's budget," Kelbaugh says.
This afternoon, while on her way to Houston, Kelbaugh meets with a representative from a land surveying company she recently did health assessments for. She discusses the results of the employee assessments with the client, providing percentages of employees found to have high blood pressure, glucose levels and other indicators, but doesn't give the names of any employees with these results.
The client will use this information to decide what programs they want to implement. Kelbaugh offers classes on diet and nutrition, and provides pamphlets and other literature about wellness and lifestyle.
After this meeting, Kelbaugh moves on to Houston for her big presentation. Kelbaugh has done health assessments for this company's Louisiana employees, but she and Lotusea founder Breeding are hoping to convince the company to implement wellness programs at its locations throughout the country.
Because she has been doing this for less than year, Kelbaugh is yet to see bottom line benefits for her clients, but she's confident her service is making a difference. "I'm helping employers solve the problem of health-care costs and helping individuals increase their quality of life," she says. "It's one of those rare programs that is truly win-win--a win for the employer and a win for the employee."