Insurance agent launches nonprofit

February 24, 2009
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Longtime Ottawa Kent Insurance Agency Inc. agent Randall Boss is taking aim at the spiraling cost of health care premiums.

Boss said he has watched over the past 30 years as his customers pay ever-increasing prices for health care coverage for employees. He’s part-owner of a division of the agency called HealthTrack, which provides wellness programs and conducts employee health assessments as a risk management tool, he said.

Now Boss has started a new nonprofit called Employers for Better Health, which is devoted to helping small and mid-sized businesses develop wellness programs despite the unhealthy economy.

“We want an organization that will be available to employers, especially in this tough economy, to promote practices and policies for healthier, more productive employees,” Boss said. “What we’ve done is come together with a group of people that actually end up working with different employers in the area. We all have different expertise.”

Boss said Employers for Better Health is making grants to for-profit companies, not large enough to have their own wellness programs, for free HealthTrack appraisals for employees. The first company to receive a grant for free HealthTrack assessments was Hastings State Bank, he said. Boss said he performs the assessments, which are kept confidential and not forwarded to the company’s health insurer. Boss said he is part-owner of HealthTrack.

“I’ve been involved as an insurance broker for over 30 years and I’ve watched these rates go up out of control, and I see companies want to do something, but they’re especially struggling right now — budget freezes and all that type of thing. If you can just get them started to do something …”

HealthTrack has 30 clients and provides one-on-one coaching to employees, Boss said.

“We’re looking at things we can put together for businesses that don’t cost any money,” he said.

He said that once employers take that first step, they may then be interested in spending money on wellness components such as incentives or one-on-one coaching.

“I’ve watched these increases in health care. People are hitting the tipping point. It’s getting very, very difficult for employers to even come up with a structure,” he said.

Fortune 1000 and 500 companies tend to use effective risk management techniques in worker’s compensation and health insurance, Boss said. He said employee health appraisals are the first step in bringing effective risk management to health care for companies with fewer than 200 employees.

Boss said he plans to beef up the organization’s Web site, www.employersforbetterthealth.org, with wellness information for smaller companies.

Ron Scott, director of Life Guidance’s Employee Assistance Center, is a director of the nonprofit and said he has been meeting monthly with the group for about six months. Boss lists 10 directors of Employers for Better Health.

“We’re interested in helping employers meet the needs of their current employees, and help them to have healthier lives at work,” Scott said. “When Randy told me he was putting this together, it was a good fit.

“I’m glad he’s doing that. I think that’s a real benefit for employers.”

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