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Small institution tackles big premium hikes

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When the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management got socked with back-to-back health premium increases of 21.9% and 19% in 2004 and 2005, respectively, its HR execs knew it was up to them to help the employees get healthy.

But because the Chicago-based organization has only 65 staff members, its insurance provider, for privacy reasons, couldn’t release any details about their ailments, even in the aggregate.

So HR did what seemed obvious: It focused on fitness among employees whose average age is 45.

The school offered each employee $125 toward a health club membership, marathon training classes, a bowling league, yoga classes or other fitness activity, and 73% of employees used it.

Finally, the school offered a $50 gift card to any employee or spouse who would take a health risk assessment. Employees who participated also got a 20-page report that outlined their risks and goals.

Last year, the school’s health premium increase was just 9.9%.

“We’ll be really happy if we get 5% or 6%,” says Suzanne Coonan, VP of HR.

Suzanne Coonan at

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