Portico Introduces a New Way to Help Assess Physical Health, Earn Wellness Dollars

Dec. 27, 2017

Starting Jan. 1, Portico is inviting members and spouses with ELCA-Primary health benefits to participate in a biometric screening as part of the 2018 Live Well Challenge. Instead of an online health assessment, by submitting basic physical measurements and a blood sample, individuals will have the opportunity to receive personalized health insights and earn $200 wellness dollars, half of the $400 available in 2018.

For more than a decade, Portico has invited ELCA leaders to take stock of their health on an annual basis with an online health assessment. Josh Smith, director of health products, explains why Portico is offering a different type of assessment for this year: “A biometric wellness screening is based on objective data instead of self-reported data. While a health assessment is useful for self-reflection, obtaining an objective perspective can help you detect potential risk for disease you might not have known about,” he said.

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Smith believes members who typically have a blood test at their routine physical exam will appreciate the extra detail they’ll receive. He encourages screening in advance of a routine exam to enhance members’ time with their doctor. “If you walk into your doctor’s office already knowing your current cholesterol, blood sugar, and potential risks, you’re empowered to ask questions and have a better conversation about your health,” Smith said.

Portico has chosen Quest Diagnostics to collect and analyze members’ height, weight, blood pressure, waist circumference, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose. Members have the option to visit one of 2,220 Quest locations, or have their doctor gather the information and submit it on a form to Quest. Smith estimates that each biometric screening performed at a Quest location instead of a doctor’s office saves $100 – $200 dollars for the ELCA Health Plan.

Just as with the online health assessment, members can expect their information to be treated as confidential. Quest will share individual results only with members — not with Portico, synod offices, or sponsoring organizations. Portico will receive aggregate reporting to better understand members’ collective health risks and target support where it will be most effective.

Though biometric screening is new to the ELCA community, it is considered to be an industry standard for health and wellness programs. In 2016, 78% of large employers offered a biometric screening, according to a Willis Towers Watson study of 540 U.S. companies with 1,000 or more employees.* Unlike some programs, Portico will not reward or penalize members for their results. “This is purely for the good of our members,” Smith said. “It’s all about increasing awareness. When members have a better grasp of their risks, they can make the right choices to avoid potential pitfalls and take control of their health.”

*2016 21st Annual Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

About Portico Benefit Services
A ministry of the ELCA, Portico Benefit Services provides health, retirement, disability, and survivor benefits and related services for approximately 50,000 active and retired ELCA rostered ministers, lay employees, and their families. For more information, contact Portico at 800.352.2876.