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Letters to the Health editor

Safeway chief responds on employee health coverage.

January 31, 2011

Your Jan. 3 story "Is It Your Boss' Business?" contains a misrepresentation about Safeway's experience controlling healthcare costs.

Here are the facts straight from the source. Safeway's "all in" healthcare costs (for employees and the company) are the same today as they were five years ago, which is 33% lower than the national average increase in healthcare costs.

During this period, Safeway reversed the national trend of rising obesity within our workforce and reduced the weight of that same group year-over-year. For participants in the program over the last three years, the rate of obesity is 21%, compared with the national average of nearly 34%.

In 2010, we used incentives and wellness programs to help nearly 30% of our smokers stop smoking and 40% of our employees with dangerously high blood pressure to get it under control. Few other U.S. companies have achieved such results.

Last year, we launched Safeway Health, a company that helps other employers achieve similar success. With this vehicle we are energized about the role we and other like-minded companies can play in addressing the healthcare crisis.

Steven A. Burd, chairman, president and chief executive

Safeway Inc.

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