Safeway develops way to improve health, save money

Ken Shachmut would have just two words for the authors of the 2,000-page-plus health care bills being disgorged from the houses of Congress: behavior and transparency.

Mr. Shachmut is executive vice president of Safeway Health LLC, the latest corporate entity created by grocery giant Safeway Inc.

Safeway Health LLC is the product of the company's very successful 2005 foray into a new approach to employee health coverage.

 "At Safeway we have transformed our approach to delivering health care to our employees and families – creating market-like mechanisms and establishing healthy behavior as currency that earns financial rewards as well as improved personal health," said Mr. Shachmut, the keynote speaker at the Business Journal's Nov. 11 health care conference in Santa Rosa.

The Safeway program – which has caught the attention of some officials in Washington, D.C. – returns significant premium dollars back to employees and members as a reward for meeting health behavioral goals around, for instance, weight loss, cholesterol or smoking cessation.

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