Omar Reid saves city money while helping employees get healthy
Omar Reid, the city of Houston's director of human resources, institutes a plan that saves money and ensures better health options for employees When Omar Reid took over as Houston's director of human resources more than five years ago, the city's health care costs were looking dire. The object of that and other changes was paradoxical: to cut costs not by cutting benefits, but by increasing care and improving employees' lives by making them healthier. A Health Risk Assessment of each employee identified health conditions that were most prevalent - and most costly. Employees who didn't participate in the Health Risk Assessment stood to pay an additional $25 a month in health-insurance premiums and another $25 for not being part of the wellness initiative. The city implemented 20 initiatives ranging from establishing an internal Wellness Team and using data analytics to identify chronic diseases prevalent among employees and their families to quarterly meetings with key medical providers. [...] as patients started taking maintenance drugs and adhered to treatment plans, emergency room and urgent care visits dropped. In the year that ended in April 2014, the city paid $8.2 million for emergency room and urgent care visits for asthma alone, a cost Reid believes will come down significantly once asthma drugs are offered free. When he hit 415 pounds in 2010, his high blood pressure, sleep apnea, arthritic knee and cholesterol issues convinced him it was time to deal with his weight. Bourgeois, a deputy assistant director in public works and engineering, ran his first half-marathon in 2011, and he'll do his third Iron Man on May 16.