Most Americans Want Coaching, According to Empire BlueCross BlueShield Survey

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May 11, 2011 
Media Contacts: 
Sally Kweskin,
Empire BlueCross BlueShield
(720) 373-4836
May 11, 2011 – New York – New York – Most of us agree, there have been times when we’ve needed a coach. Our closets are a mess and our bank account(s), even more so. Marital bliss is far from effortless, and our own teenage angst was a walk in the park compared to what we’re currently living with.  
And yet, while family health doesn’t top our list, according to a new Empire BlueCross BlueShield survey, sometimes this kind of guidance is exactly what we need. Disability can happen to any of us at any time. In fact, the actual odds that a new worker will experience a long-term disability before retirement are one in three, according to the Council for Disability Awareness. 
In times like this, Empire offers a health coach. Is this Vince Lombardi? No. Oprah? She is booked. However, 25 percent of those surveyed said they’d like to have Vince Lombardi or Oprah herself coach them through their trials and tribulations…someone who provides encouragement, gives incentives and pushes them hard.  
Empire offers health coaches to do exactly that. While two thirds of Americans don’t know what a health coach is – or even what one does, the role of a health coach can be invaluable. 
“Our health coaches work one-on-one with employees to help identify and resolve clinical and non-clinical issues that impact their ability to be productive,” said Julie Bietsch, vice president, Empire BlueCross BlueShield’s Care Management Operations. “With this support, employees may return to work more quickly and, in some cases, may be able to stay at work and avoid a disability claim altogether.” 
“For example, when an employee who is covered by our health plan files a short-term disability claim, they are paired with a health coach who is also a registered nurse,” said Mark Wagar, President and CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield “Our health coaches become the primary contact for the employee and act as the employee’s health advocate. They coordinate the employee’s clinical care, as well as the recovery and return-to-work plan across all of our health and short-term disability programs. The health coach also follows up with the employee after they return to work to ensure a successful return and to help minimize repeat claims. This coordinated care helps us proactively identify issues that could keep employees out of work, and it lets us work with them to resolve these issues as early as possible. All of this helps to distinguish our model from others in the marketplace.” 
Half of all Americans – and even more parents – admit they can’t afford to be sidelined by health issues for three months or more. And the toll is even greater for the employer, with studies suggesting that the cost of absence and lost productivity may be up to four times greater than health care costs alone. In fact, unplanned absences cost employers $74 billion and 2.8 million lost work hours per year.*  
Unlike traditional disability management models, Empire’s integrated health and short-term disability program (Productivity Solutions) leads to an improvement in employee productivity and a reduction in disability costs through disability prevention, shortened durations and a reduction in repeat claims.  
“Our program has a 21 percent reduction in claim turnaround time and connects applicants quickly to their health coach,” said Pat Murphy, president and general manager, Empire’s Life and Disability business. “On average, our members return to work one week faster than with other programs. And we know every day counts.”  
Additional survey results regarding disability insurance and health coaches found: 
Six in 10 parents with a child under 18 years old admit not having the financial resources to be out of work for three months or more due to their health.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans who suffer from a chronic condition (e.g., diabetes, asthma) say they could use someone to coach them for the road ahead.
Women are significantly more likely than men to welcome coaching or guidance on family-related topics (40 percent versus 30 percent).
The omnibus survey was conducted online among a national sample of 2,500 Americans ages 18+ (balanced to Census). Fielding took place in March 2011 by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). The survey has a margin of error of ±2.0% at the 95% confidence level, meaning if the study were replicated, the study findings would be within 2 percentage points 95 times out of 100.  
More information about Productivity Solutions can be found in the Integrated Health and Productivity Management whitepaper. Go to and select the “Integrated Health, Absence & Disability Management Report” link. 
*Sources: The Integrated Health, Absence and Disability Management Report 2010, Anthem Pilot Study 2009  
About Empire BlueCross BlueShield: 
Serving New Yorkers for over 75 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the largest health insurer in New York supporting nearly six million members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New York. Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at Also, follow us on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or visit our YouTube channel at

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