By Steven Burdick, senior vice president, UnitedHealthcare

Committing to a healthier lifestyle is something that all of us struggle with everyday. We all think about it, but it’s doing something about it that’s the challenge most of us face.

The goal of UnitedHealthcare wellness programs is to provide support to railroad employees and their dependants to meet these challenges by offering a full range of benefit options to achieve and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Unhealthy lifestyles are the primary contributors to the leading causes of death in the United States. They account for more than 70 percent of all deaths.

Factors that affect health are principally behavioral and are often preventable. We are all aware that smoking and excess weight alone are two substantial health risks that take a personal toll on our lives.

By offering UTU members and their dependants the assistance and various tools available through the wellness programs, they can begin to tackle changing some behaviors that pose serious health risks.

Railroad employees, regardless of which medical vendor administers their benefits, have unlimited access to the UnitedHealthcare wellness programs, all delivered by a railroad-dedicated team.

Programs in healthy weight and tobacco cessation offer personal health coaches to help members progress towards their specific health goals and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

UTU members can also complete a health assessment to identify potential suggestions for a healthier lifestyle. Most important, participation in the wellness programs may help prevent more serious diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

The success of the UnitedHealthcare wellness programs for railroad employees and their dependants speaks for itself. More than 5,500 individuals have been coached over the past 21 months.

As a result of their resolve to make a change to a healthier lifestyle, they have achieved tremendous success. Railroad members who participated in the Healthy Weight Program lost an average of almost 10 pounds per individual — almost 9,000 pounds in total!

Just as notable, participants in the QuitPower Program cut back on their cigarette consumption, on average, by more than 300 packs per person per year, which is more than 158,000 packs per year for all participants! A healthy new direction is within reach for all of us. The UnitedHealthcare wellness programs are focused on educating, engaging and encouraging all railroad members to take the initiative to live a healthier life.

Health care coverage isn’t just about providing coverage to members when an illness occurs. It’s also about providing members with the right programs that support and inspire them to stay healthy. Helping members become aware of their modifiable health risks and engaged in their own personal health can be a great way to affect life-long change.

UnitedHealthcare members may obtain more information or join a wellness program by calling (877) 201-4840; Aetna members may call (800) 842-4044; and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield members may call (866) 267-3320.