Wellness programs geared to improve employee health in the workplace are indeed alive and well.

Just ask Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which for the second straight year, received the American Heart Association's Start! Fit Friendly Company Platinum Achievement Award for its model.

The only Platinum level winner in northeastern Pennsylvania, and one of only three businesses recognized at the Platinum level in the entire state, the BCNEPA was recently recognized for its leadership in creating a culture of workplace wellness for its employees.

Awarded annually, the Start! Fit Friendly designation recognizes companies that support employees' physical activity, promote healthy eating options, and offer constant education and incentives around healthy lifestyle choices. The Platinum level award is the highest honor granted by the American Heart Association nationwide.

"While we are proud to receive this award, it is really a testament to the efforts of our employees," said Leo M. Hartz, MD, chief medical officer with BCNEPA. "Participation in our Blue Health Solutions wellness program continues to increase, showing that our employees are serious about getting healthier and improving their lives."

The BCNEPA was lauded for demonstrating an increase in the number of employees that participate in the company's wellness program versus the previous year, which is one of the positive behavioral change benchmarks required to earn Platinum Fit Friendly status. "Although that increase is a positive step, the ultimate goal is to have all of our employees participating in Blue Health Solutions," Hartz said.

As part of the Blue Health Solutions program, BCNEPA employees are encouraged to fill out a simple online Health Risk Appraisal questionnaire.

The information from the questionnaire is then used to develop a customized wellness plan that includes online learning, health and wellness tips and access to a health coach for support.

The Blue Health Solutions program is available to any company that does business with BCNEPA.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association headquartered in Wilkes-Barre that offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to approximately 600,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

The company's mission is to provide innovative solutions that support more affordable health care, promote personal accountability for health and wellness, and offer superior service and partnership to employers, members, and providers.