How one dealership group keeps a lid on health-care costs

A staff member at each Fred Beans location was tapped to become that store’s on-site healthy-living coordinator with whom Volm works and to whom employees can reach out with questions.

Employees also receive annual healthy-living activity cards that encourage participation in activities such as health fairs and workouts. Depending on quarterly participation, staff members can earn up to $150 a year, Volm said. Employees also can earn a $10 gift card to a Wawa convenience store for participating in a 30-day fitness challenge. Each month, the group shares an employee health highlight, and quarterly Fred’s Healthy BeansTalk newsletters are mailed to employees’ homes.

Volm also created 10-minute exercise videos to encourage employee movement at individualized levels and pace.

“We have employees sit at a desk, we have employees that are on their feet all day, [and] we have employees that work with their hands all day,” she said.

Fred Beans TV programming that plays at group locations features work anniversaries and automaker news, interspersed with yoga classes, health reminders and information about the benefits of certain foods.

“It’s in your face all the time,” Gilbert said.

There also are financial incentives for employees to visit the doctor and dentist and to get cancer screenings.

Employees who get a free, in-network annual physical and complete certain screenings receive a $140-per-month credit off the cost of their health insurance, Gilbert said.

Gilbert said having a wellness coordinator is a unique benefit and a tool for recruiting and employee retention for the group, which has 32 locations, including 21 dealerships and a large parts warehouse. The company was named one of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2021 Healthiest Employers in the Greater Philadelphia Region.

Fred Beans, which sold 13,377 new vehicles and 11,810 used vehicles last year and is tracking to sell a combined 31,000 vehicles in 2021, switched to a self-insured health plan about four years ago. Gilbert said she keeps an eye on employee participation in the healthy-living programming and on the group’s insurance costs.
“Each year I have an increase from our health insurance,” Gilbert said. “But the healthier that we are, the [less] my increase is.”

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