J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted September 18, 2012

Published in Health

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Slashing the cost of health care in businesses...

Read More: reducing the cost of health care

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Anywhere from 10% to 50%---depending on leadership

Background. For most businesses in the United States, disease and the cost of health care is a huge problem. Not only does "disease care" cost a lot of money, it also takes its toll on employee productivity, creativity,  absenteeism and morale. And the numbers are huge.

According to Medicare, the average health care expenditure per person in the United States for 2010 was $8402. So for an organization of 1,000 people, that's an annual medical bill of $8.4 million, most of which is paid by the company. If you've got 10,000 employees, then the bill is about $84 million.

The Good News. By simply helping people improve what they're eating, those health care bills can be cut in half. We estimate that for any organization---their cost of health care can be cut by 10 to 50% or more. Why the wide difference in the estimate? In a word--leadership. That's the big variable.

The question is: How important will this health promotion initiative be in your organization?

Leadership is key. We have concluded that the degree of success for this type of project hinges on the understanding and support of the top executive in the organization---the CEO, the President or the General Manager. So we are committed to finding those special business leaders out there who are ready to do something great for their employees, the families of those employees and the bottom line of their business---by teaching everyone in the organization how to take charge of their health.

The most important three ingredients for program success: Leadership, Leadership & Leadership

But will the people actually change? It is our experience that when people become educated about the "big picture" impact of their food choices---many of them will voluntarily change---for any number of reasons. But, by offering an opportunity to participate in a well-organized corporate program, the odds of that positive change rise sharply. Five reasons:

  1. Education. The leaders of the enterprise can organize and conduct training far beyond what the employees might do on their own. They can even arrange for that training to be conducted at the place of business---during working hours. Many companies have employee cafeterias that can become a huge asset during the process.
  2. Leadership. With a CEO and executive team that truly "gets it" about food, they are in a position to influence behavior in a group setting. They can also celebrate successes with many forms of positive reinforcement. They can make truly healthy eating an integral part of the company culture.
  3. Peer support. By organizing program participants into groups or teams, each employee will have the benefit of receiving support and encouragement from their teammates---and they will all be accountable to each other.
  4. Incentives. The CEO has the ability to provide financial incentives to participate and to achieve success. Lower cost of health coverage, bonuses, etc.
  5. Green Initiative. Most corporations already have green initiatives but are missing the single biggest opportunity to truly make a difference. This element is a motivator for the individual and is a way for the company to enhance their public image.
Most companies are striving to build their "green" image these days. And there is nothing greener than consuming an earth-friendly, plant-based diet.

More good news. Certainly the opportunity for a medium-sized corporation (10,000 employees) to save $30 or $40 million a year on health costs would be fantastic! But there are other benefits from such a program that might be even more important to the long-term success of the enterprise. For example:

  1. Less absenteeism
  2. Higher productivity
  3. Better morale
  4. Less employee turnover
  5. Better public image (most admired, best place to work, greenest company, etc.)

Real world examples. The medical doctors featured in our book have been reversing chronic disease for decades by simply introducing their patients to a health-promoting diet that features mostly whole, plant-based foods, still in nature's package. But, as we know, you don't really need to have an M.D. to take charge of your health; you just need to start getting the vast majority of your calories from whole, plant-based foods.

CEO John Mackey is helping his 62,000 employees learn how to take charge of their own health.

Recently, these powerful principles been harnessed by large corporations. The latest one is Whole Foods Market, under the leadership of founder and CEO, John Mackey. You can learn all about his success on this first blog:

Do you know any business leaders who might be interested? Please give me a call at 917-399-9700. Or send me an email at

A little background. For most of my business career, I have been involved in managing change, raising productivity, reducing costs and increasing profits in a host of organizations. As a president, general manager or as a management consultant, I have employed the same "process-improvement" skills to identify waste and increase profitability---in a wide variety of business settings.

I now wish to leverage my business background with more recently acquired knowledge of the whole, plant-based diet-style to help businesses reduce costs and improve productivity. The beauty of this opportunity is the simplicity. In a nutshell, we want to help employees learn the "why" and the "how" for greatly increasing the amount of whole, plant-based foods in their diets. And we want to give them an incentive to move in that direction as rapidly as possible.

I hold an industrial engineering degree from Auburn University and an MBA from The University of Hawaii

Project details. Our role in these projects will be to help educate, facilitate, organize, train, administer, report, celebrate and assist the top executive in every possible way to help all of the employees decide to take charge of their own health.

Realistically, we know that many of the employees will not take advantage of this opportunity, but a great many of them will---enough of them to make a sizable dent in the overall cost of health care for the enterprise. Further, their energy, enthusiasm and morale boost will be felt throughout the entire organization.

And it all begins with providing the opportunity for ALL employees to take charge of their own health. In so doing, they help themselves, their families, their planet and their employer who would be making all of this possible. Continue reading this article, along with video. 

Blogging daily at the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation


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