Farmington • Since the inception of an employee wellness program for Davis County employees, Treasurer Mark Altom has stuck to a routine of cycling classes and mountain biking.
That exercise, along with a good diet, has kept his waistline trim and his bank account a little fatter because the county offers financial rewards for healthy living.
The cash is nice, Altom said, "but the money isn't the incentive."
The real reward is the healthy weight he's maintained since losing 25 pounds right before the program started about a decade ago.
And Altom's not the only winner. Along with many of its workers, Davis County got a financial prize: a recent $500,000 credit from its insurer because of a drop in its claims.
The wellness program, with its emphasis on preventive care and healthy living, gets a lot of credit for that.
Wellness programs are getting a boost nationally, with federal health reform set to increase how much companies can give participating workers in discounts, rebates and other rewards.
Ashley Erickson, employee wellness coordinator, said one part of the program focuses on lowering the county's insurance premiums through health risk assessments for workers.
The assessment paid for by the county looks at tobacco use, body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Employees who score 86 or more on a 100-point scale or who improve by at least five points from the previous year's assessment get a $200 reduced risk award.
In addition, consulting with their own doctor about their physical condition or attending health classes will earn workers a wellness premium of $5 per pay period, or $130 a year.
And active efforts to get and stay healthy also bring rewards.
Participants who keep logs of their annual physicals, exercise sessions, healthy meals and participation in health challenges are entered into gift certificate drawings.
When the program first started, about 180 workers had a health risk assessment, according to Erickson.
Last year, 600 to 700 of the county's approximately 1,100 employees had one, and 200 of them went for the healthy life incentives, she said.
The program has been a good motivator, Altom said.
"It's ironic," he said. "When I started this, I felt like I was relatively active."
Altom has kicked it up a few notches and is an avid bicyclist now.
He takes a cycling class twice a week, rides regularly with friends and goes on long-distance trips, once completing the 102-mile White Rim Trail in one day.
Mike Cole, an appraiser trainee who is covered by outside insurance, said the program dovetailed with his need to exercise and diet.
"I had been in to see a doctor, and he said I was just stepping into diabetes," he said.
Cole had the health assessment and used the $200 he received for a gym membership. The exercise combined with a diet has helped him lose weight, and he's no longer considered diabetic, he said.
"I think it's great that the county offers the program," Cole said. "It's a really great program."