September 19, 2002 – Prevention, education lead to healthier lives, lower costs 

Prevention, education lead to healthier lives, lower costs

Welcome to the first in a series of newsletters about PPG’s Lifestyle Partnership. Lifestyle Partnership, a collaboration with employees, retirees and their families, seeks to improve the health of everyone in the PPG family and to help control soaring health-care costs that impact not only the company’s bottom line, but employee wallets as well.

“There is nothing more important than our employees’ health and safety. PPG has a legacy of providing quality health-care benefits to its employees, retirees and family members,” said Ray LeBoeuf, PPG’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“The key to a healthier life and controlling costs is bringing a quality-based approach to how the company and our employees use the U.S. health care system. This approach focuses on preventing illnesses and having all of us become better informed health-care consumers.”

“Take 5”

PPG’s new “Take 5” Web site addresses these two issues by providing information and outlining simple lifestyle changes in the five areas that account for about half of all medical conditions among PPG employees, retirees and their families: cardiovascular health, diabetes, muscle and bone health, depression and women’s health.

By learning how to prevent and properly treat medical problems in these and other areas, employees can take an active role in improving their health and containing costs, said Kerry Rowles, director of payroll benefits.

Typically, U.S. employers control health-care costs in three ways: paying less by negotiating the best pricing with insurance providers, sharing the costs with employees, and reducing benefits.

“We are reaching our limit in using all three of these traditional strategies at PPG. Another option in combating double-digit growth in health-care costs is to demand better quality out of the U.S. health-care system,” Rowles said. “As a company, we are working with other businesses and health-care providers to improve medical outcomes, eliminate waste and reduce costs.

We can’t do this alone, however. We need our employees to partner with us by taking responsibility for lifestyle changes through preventive health-care actions.”

“An ounce of prevention”

Statistics underscoring the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still hold true, especially in this modern age of costly medical treatment and rising drug prices, according to Dr. Alberto Colombi, corporate medical director. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight, daily exercise and avoiding use of nicotine are simple ways to prevent many illnesses, he said. Employees and family members also need to manage their health-care risk factors and request appropriate tests and procedures that should be performed at certain ages or when they are in high-risk groups. Simple steps, such as getting an annual flu shot or monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol, can help employees and their family members to avoid costly medical care in the long run and improve their quality of life at the same time.

“As informed consumers, employees will know what preventive steps they must take to stay healthy,” Colombi said. “They also

"As informed consumers, employees will know what preventive steps they must take to stay healthy."

—Dr. Alberto Colombi,
Corporate Medical Director

will know if the best course of diagnosis and treatment is being followed should they become sick.” By knowing what to expect from the medical community and understanding how to interact with health-care providers, employees can take control of their health, improve the quality of their lives, and keep exorbitant costs down -- for themselves as well as for PPG.

“We need our employees to become part of the health-care solution by being actively involved in their health-care services,” Colombi said. “To get the best health care possible, employees need to educate themselves, take preventive steps and not be afraid to ask questions of their health-care providers. The result will be a higher quality of life and lower health-care costs for everyone.”

Click here to learn more about cardiovascular health, diabetes, muscle and bone health, depression and women's health.

Did you know?

  • PPG’s average net health-care cost per active U.S. employee totaled $5,769 in 2001, an increase of 11 percent over 2000.
  • Health-care costs for people with multiple risk factors for heart disease -- smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol -- are 228 percent higher than those of people without those risk factors, according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
  • Less than 3 percent of health-care dollars are spent on prevention, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Medical services comprised 14 percent of the 2001 U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This is the largest share of GDP for any industrialized nation.

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

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