Incentive Programs Can Make a Difference in Your Employees’ Health

By Linda T. Hummel
President of the Employer Group Business Segment, Humana of Texas

Humana green logoSome would argue that Americans don’t change behavior easily. That would explain why nearly two-of-three American adults are still overweight or obese, 60 percent don’t exercise and more than 20 percent still smoke. Additionally, 90 percent of those who join health-and-fitness clubs stop going within the first 90 days.

We know that healthier choices are better for individuals, their families, their employers and the U.S. economy as a whole. How can we encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices in San Antonio?

Incentives for Well Being
Research shows that Americans are ready for a health rewards program.

The majority of 1,000 adults in a 2011 survey for HumanaVitality, a comprehensive wellness, reward and loyalty solution, said they should be rewarded for making healthy choices.  And 59 percent said they would like to be rewarded for exercising.

Health reward solutions don’t just benefit individual consumers. With rising health care costs and a desire to reduce absenteeism, employers have a significant interest in encouraging their employees’ pursuit of well-being. A growing number of employers are now including non-cash incentives in their wellness solutions. A survey of 157 large employers found that 62 percent offered incentives in 2010, up from 57 percent the previous year.

Research shows incentives make a real difference in people’s health.  A good weight-loss incentive solution can increase employee participation rates from 12 percent to 35 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Additionally, a 2010 study from the American Journal of Health Promotion shows individuals who regularly participated in the Vitality solution experienced shorter and fewer hospital stays than those who didn’t participate.

Make it Personal
The main drivers of success are personalized plans and the ability of participants to self-select their rewards. In the case of HumanaVitality, this approach works in two ways. First, HumanaVitality provides participants with personal pathways they can follow as individuals to improve their health and well-being. Next, participants who pursue those pathways earn points that allow them to choose among more than 600,000 rewards ranging from electronics to vacations to charitable donations.

The key is self-selection: choosing the pathway to follow and working toward redeeming rewards that are personally motivating and significant. HumanaVitality is based on a philosophy that rewarding small, personalized steps today – taking a few extra minutes to exercise, choosing one more healthy meal a day – can add up to meaningful change over time.

In a time when companies regularly use rewards to earn brand loyalty of the American consumer, San Antonio companies should stop to consider if they are doing enough to build loyalty. Solutions like HumanaVitality reward consumers for making healthy choices in the short run, but the real payoff – the biggest reward of all – is sustainable change toward long-term health and well-being.

For more information on HumanaVitality or health rewards programs, visit or call (801) 256-6200.

Linda T. Hummel is President of the Employer Group Division for Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) in Texas. A 22-year veteran with Humana, Hummel is responsible for the overall management and strategic planning for Humana’s statewide commercial operations and products, which include health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPO), self-insured plans (ASO), point-of-service plans (POS), Group Medicare plans, specialty benefit products and HumanaVitality, a comprehensive health, wellness and loyalty solution.

Methodist Stone Oak Hospital Receives Women’s Choice Award

Selection of Methodist Stone Oak Hospital on list of “Best Hospitals for Patient Experience in Heart Care” is based on women’s preferences, recommendation rating and clinical excellence

MSOH_CLROneWebSiteMethodist Stone Oak Hospital has received the Women’s Choice Award from WomenCertified® distinguishing it as one of the 2013 Best Hospitals for Patient Experience in Heart Care. The award is based on robust criteria that include female patient satisfaction measurements as well as clinical excellence considerations. WomenCertified represents the collective voice of female consumers and is a trusted referral source for top businesses and brands identified as meeting the needs and preferences of women.

“Our heart services combine advanced technology along with a commitment to personal care,” said Dean Alexander, FACHE, chief executive officer at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital. “Our hospital was especially designed with the patient’s overall experience in mind, so it’s with great honor that we accept the Women’s Choice Award.”

Women make or influence more than 90 percent of health care decisions for themselves and their families, according to a study published by the American Academy of Family Physicians. The Women’s Choice Award signals that a hospital meets high standards regarding a woman’s preferences, and the distinction allows women to make an informed decision about where to go for care for themselves or their family.

MHCS heartcare“Methodist Stone Oak Hospital’s selection by WomenCertified as one of the Best Hospitals for Patient Experience in Heart Care differentiates it from other choices in the area,” explains Delia Passi, CEO and founder of WomenCertified, and former publisher of Working Woman and Working Mother magazines. “Women have many choices when it comes to health care and they set the standard for customer service. Women’s Choice Award recipients have demonstrated extraordinary service in meeting the needs of women and their families, and represent the smart choice for women.”

Hospitals qualify for this highly selective annual list based on an in-depth proprietary scoring process. The scoring incorporates a national, standardized survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) and an analysis that weighs criteria identified as the most important to women for patient satisfaction. Additionally, the scoring incorporates WomenCertified’s in-depth research on customer satisfaction among women, including a joint study on customer satisfaction by gender conducted with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Hospitals were also screened based on clinical criteria.

“Recognizing the best hospitals for heart care nationwide that are women-friendly and align with women’s identified preferences is important to our mission at WomenCertified, where women help other women with tough, consumer decisions,” Passi concludes. “Most importantly, when a woman sees the Women’s Choice Award at her local hospital, she’ll know the hospital values her experience as a critical component of her and her loved one’s care.”

Alexander noted that for decades Methodist Healthcare has been a leader in heart services. “At Methodist Stone Oak Hospital, we’re taking that legacy to an even higher level,” he said.  Led by a respected team of physicians, the Methodist Stone Oak Hospital Cardiology Department is staffed with certified technologists and nurses and equipped with a thorough array of cardiac technologies including a new hybrid operating room used for complex heart procedures. The facility is accredited by the Joint Commission in stroke care and is designated as an accredited Chest Pain Center.

A full-service hospital featuring women’s services, diagnostic imaging, general and specialty surgeries and emergency care, Methodist Stone Oak in 2012 ranked among the top 18% of Joint Commission accredited hospitals in the nation for meeting quality card standards. Opened in 2009, Methodist Stone Oak Hospital is located at 1139 W. Sonterra Blvd.  For more information, visit

Why People Make Choices They Know Are Unhealthy

By Linda T. Hummel
President of the Employer Group Business Segment, Humana of Texas

Humana green logoAmericans are constantly bombarded by health information. Television, magazines, the Internet, and other media sources are replete with information about the critical role that healthy behaviors play in preventing disease, improving quality of life, and reducing long-term healthcare costs. As a result, most people understand the crucial importance of regular exercise and healthy eating to long-term health.

One would think that this abundance of data would yield a nation full of people who are in excellent shape and run little risk of developing conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, says Laura Ten Eyck, Ph.D., a clinical outcomes expert with LifeSynch, the wholly-owned behavioral health and change subsidiary of Humana Inc. “But many Americans continue to make unhealthy choices despite the overwhelming evidence that they shouldn’t,” Dr. Eyck says.

People have many different reasons for choosing not to engage in healthy behaviors, and Dr. Eyck has identified the following as three such reasons.

‘They’re just trying to scare me’
Scare tactics, or “fear appeal,” are a common approach in health messaging, highlighting the negative consequences associated with engaging in harmful behaviors or choosing not to engage in healthful behaviors; however, extensive studies show a relatively consistent result: Fear appeal rarely works (Ruiter, Abraham, & Kok, 2001).

Why? Evidence shows that when people hear or read health messages and realize that they fall into the group being targeting, they are very likely to discredit the evidence (Pyszczynski, Greenberg, & Holt, 1985). They say to themselves, “They’re just trying to scare me,” and fail to take action.

‘There’s always someone in worse shape than me’
Dr. Eyck says another way people talk themselves out of worrying about their current health status is by comparing themselves to others they perceive as “worse off.” Many unconsciously rationalize their condition as minimal compared to someone else’s.

There is ample research evidence to support this conclusion. When research subjects have the opportunity to compare themselves to someone else on a specific characteristic such as weight, they often choose someone who will make them appear in a more favorable light (Wills, 1981). “By engaging in this type of comparison, they protect their self-image and self-esteem, which often helps them maintain a sense of wellbeing,” Dr. Eyck explained. “Their unconscious choices communicate a clear message: ‘There’s always someone in worse shape than me.’”

‘It’s not my fault’
A third excuse people unconsciously make also involves comparison with others. People tend to believe that their own choices and actions are driven by external factors they cannot control, while other people’s choices and actions are driven by internal factors. This tendency is called the actor-observer effect (Jones & Nisbett, 1972). It absolves the person making the comparison from any responsibility for his or her actions, letting him or her say, in effect, “It’s not my fault.”

A better approach
The field of psychology has evolved over the years to address poor choices. Positive psychology is a relatively new approach, starting in the late 1990s. Dr. Eyck says psychologists who subscribe to this methodology focus on what is best about people, based on an extensive study of character qualities common to all humans. We have seen positive psychology applied to other health and behavioral health disciplines. But why is it a good fit? Dr. Eyck notes research shows us that happy, optimistic people:

  • Are healthier. They have stronger immune systems and are less likely to get sick.
  • Recover more quickly from illness.
  • Have fewer health complications.
  • Live longer.

In a coaching or counseling situation, the coach assesses the strengths of the client and then leverages those strengths to help the client achieve a stated goal. The emphasis shifts from the scare tactics, the victim mentality, and the helpless feelings to “How can I use my strengths to attain my goal?” People feel empowered, motivated, and encouraged, and they can choose to increase their overall happiness and fulfillment

To learn more about how LifeSynch can help your organization improve the lives of your employees or members contact lsproductrequest@lifesynch.comor visit

Linda T. Hummel is President of the Employer Group Division for Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) in Texas. A 22-year veteran with Humana, Hummel is responsible for the overall management and strategic planning for Humana’s statewide commercial operations and products, which include health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPO), self-insured plans (ASO), point-of-service plans (POS), Group Medicare plans, specialty benefit products and HumanaVitality, a comprehensive health, wellness and loyalty solution. 

Aspinwall, L. G. (1998). “Rethinking the Role of Positive Affect in Self-Regulation.” Motivation and Emotion, Vol 22, No 1.

Jones, E. E., & Nisbett, R. E., (1971). “The actor and the observer: Divergent perceptions of the causes of behavior.” Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.

Pyszczynski, T., Greenberg, J., & Holt, K. (1985). “Maintaining consistency between self-serving beliefs and available data: A bias in information processing.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11, 179-190.

Ruiter, R.A.C., Abraham, C., & Kok, G. (2001). “Scary warnings and rational precautions: A review of the psychology of fear appeals.” Psychology and Health, 16, 313-630.

Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2006). “The psychology of self-defense: Self-affirmation theory.” In M. P. Zanna (Ed.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 38, pp. 183-242). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Wills, T. A. (1981). “Downward comparison principles in social psychology.” Psychological Bulletin, 90, 245-271.

Make Freedom Reign for People with Diabetes

American Diabetes logoMartin Luther King, Jr.  Rosa Parks.  Just two of the many civil rights leaders who fought for our personal freedom—some went to jail, others died in their fight for equality. Yet, today, inequities remain. Even though, through reform, expanded healthcare will be widely available to millions of Americans, injustice in health care remains.

Reverend King’s baritone still echoes across our country, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Today I ask you to grab hold of the courage of our forefathers and help speak out on behalf of people with diabetes:

  • Unless we take action, as many as one in three adult Americans will have diabetes by 2050.
  • We must Stop Diabetes® from robbing us of family traditions, healthy memories, and quality of life.
  • We must embrace the patient’s right to health, healthcare, and health insurance.
  • We must secure legislation to address our unique needs, such as prevention efforts.
  • We must continue to find ways to fight inequities and disparities.
  • And, unless we fight for equality, some of our loved ones with diabetes may continue to experience unfair treatment at work, at school and in other parts of daily life.

Diabetes is an epidemic in the United States:

  • Diabetes was the fifth leading cause of death for African Americans in 2006.
  • 4.9 million non-Hispanic African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
  • Non-Hispanic African-Americans are 77% more likely to have diabetes compared to Caucasians.

We must unite to make freedom reign for people with diabetes—talk about, write about, help spread the word about the urgent need to Stop Diabetes and Get Involved:

  • Sign up to be a Diabetes Advocate. Receive updates and alerts that provide information about key issues, and help you create and deliver timely messages to your elected officials.
  • Reflect on the great historic strides made towards equality. Reach for the strength of our heroes and celebrate their legacies by advocating for positive changes.
  • Help win healthcare equality for our communities, our families, and future generations by stopping the growing diabetes epidemic in the African American community.
  • Learn about the Live Empowered®/African American Programs—call 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383) or visit

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Define Your Employees’ Health with Specialty Benefits

Humana green logoBy Linda T. Hummel, President of the Employer Group Division Humana in Texas

How do your employees define health? Is it being able to run a mile? Is it being able to zip last year’s jeans? Is it feeling happy or fulfilled?

Health can mean something different to each individual. However, to truly achieve well-being, one must be healthy on several levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and financially.

Therefore, when San Antonio employers are choosing what benefits to offer their workers, it is important for them to realize there is a wide range of specialty insurance products and wellness services available, and each one is designed to help customers achieve lifelong well-being.

Let’s use dental coverage as an example. More than 90 percent of diseases – including heart disease, diabetes and cancer – show up in a mouth first. A dentist is often the first medical provider to find health problems. Good dental care can also lead to savings on medical care. The Journal of Periodontology found that health care costs were 21 percent higher for patients with severe gum disease than for those without gum problems.

Healthy eyes are also an important part of living a healthy and full life. By taking steps to improve your sight and protect your eyes from harm, you have a great chance of seeing and living well for many years.

If a small business cannot afford to sponsor dental or vision insurance for their employees, some benefits providers offer affordable individual plans. Humana, for instance, offers individual dental plans, which cover preventive services with no waiting periods, and an individual vision plan with a $10 co-pay for an eye exam.

The connection between physical health and overall well-being goes beyond a person’s senses. On more than one occasion, you have probably checked your bank account and had an emotional reaction – positive or negative.

During the recent economic downturn, it became increasingly clear that a person’s well-being is tied to financial security. Due to increased interest, health care providers are offering myriad financial protection plans – including critical illness plans that protect individual or family finances during serious illnesses and term life insurance policies for children up to 25 years old – to make financial security a reality.

In addition to simply assisting in your employees’ physical and mental health, these benefits help to reassure them that you are providing a work environment where their well-being and happiness is a priority.

Linda T. Hummel is President of the Employer Group Division for Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) in Texas. A 22-year veteran with Humana, Hummel is responsible for the overall management and strategic planning for Humana’s statewide commercial operations and products, which include health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPO), self-insured plans (ASO), point-of-service plans (POS), Group Medicare plans, specialty benefit products and HumanaVitality, a comprehensive health, wellness and loyalty solution.

Padgett Stratemann & Co. earns industry, community recognition

Padgett Stratemann Ranked 107 Largest CPA Firm in US

The Platt Group, publishers of INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA), recently released its Beyond the IPA Top 100 –  a ranking of the nation’s Top 200 Accounting Firms.

For more than 20 years, IPA has maintained a tradition of compiling its annual lists of Top 100 Accounting Firms, the Best of the Best, and All-Stars. Each list devoted to showcasing U.S. based CPA firms who have helped to shape industry standards and who have defined the true meaning of customer service.

Padgett Stratemann couldn’t be prouder to be ranked alongside so many innovative CPA firms. Who like us – know the value of building strong teams in order to offer Service. More Than Expected.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Selects PS&Co. as Corporate Big of the Year  for 2012

When asked why PS&Co. was selected to receive its highest recognition awarded to a corporation, Alida Tallman – Vice President of Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas (BBBS) stated – “Padgett Stratemann is truly a unique corporate  philanthropic  partner.  From  sponsoring  several  of   BBBS’ signature events, including the Ice Ball gala and Leadership Circle reception, to volunteering at Bowl for Kids, the Holiday Party, and Hobie Day, Padgett’s year-round commitment to BBBS is unparalleled. The true giving spirit of Padgett’s leadership and staff represents the best in corporate commitment to helping children in need. In addition to the company’s ongoing support, their Director of Marketing – Maria Barrett – will serve as judge for the Texas Big of the Year submissions in January 2013.

PS&Co. Execs Rank Second in NSIDE Magazine’s Corporate Executive Fit Challenge

Partners: Bill Dimick and Joel Perez – HR Director: Michelle Wiederstein, and Senior Manager: Marc Sewell – competed in the Executive Fit Company Challenge hosted by NSIDE Magazine and Fit Company.

Contenders from across the city of San Antonio were put to the test to determine their levels of endurance and fitness. Competing against the clock and their personal best, the PS&Co.  team received two awards – a second place overall team ranking and an individual ranking by Michelle Wiederstein who received the Most Inspirational contender award. Michelle was a last minute step-in and completed the course in just over 24 minutes – bringing in the top ranking for the team, which helped to secure the teams 2nd place position over Digital Defense, Inc.

South San Antonio Chamber Awards Padgett Stratemann Silver In 2012 Healthy Workplace Awards

With a deep commitment to helping team members stay healthy in order to be the very best they can be for both their families and the communities in which they serve, the firm was pleased to be recognized for it’s wellness efforts by the South San Antonio Chamber.  PS&Co. will continue its efforts to educate team members on what it means to live healthy and strong, support their wellness efforts, and provide healthy alternatives in and outside the workplace.

In addition to our firm recognitions, several team members were recognized by the San Antonio Business Journal as leading business professionals for their commitment to excellence, including:

Denise Bendele Receives 2012 Women’s Leadership Award

Each year, the San Antonio Business Journal selects a group of leaders from the Alamo City to receive its coveted Women’s Leadership Award.  Although 100 nominations were submitted for the 2012 program, only the very best rose to the top – including Denise Bendele, who heads-up the firm’s Audit practice. Denise was one of two female business leaders to receive the Corporate Executive award.

“I am proud that I have been with the same company since I graduated from college” – stated Denise. “I have done just about every job here”, she continued.

Denise heads-up the firm’s construction industry practice, serves on its Executive Committee, and is the partner-in-charge of Padgett Stratemann University – the firm’s commitment to continued professional development of its team members. A Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Analyst, Denise leads by example in all she does.

Will Kothmann Named One of SA’s 40Under40

Each year, the San Antonio Business Journal selects 40 exceptional individuals under the age of 40 who are making great strides in their professional careers and are contributing positively to the San Antonio community.

This year’s winners were selected from a pool of more than 200 nominations – and although the competition was tough, Senior Manager – Will Kothmann – rose to the top as a business professional who more than understood the importance of family, community, and professional commitment.

The firm’s congratulates Will for immolating the characteristics needed to serve with the strongest of ethical convictions.