CULBERSON COUNTY, TX (KWES) - Imagine getting cash, free vacation days or gift cards just for being healthy. That's a possibility for Culberson County employees.
The county adopted a new health and wellness program called "Healthy County."
This program is optional for county employees and it won't cost them a penny. It will instead pay them if they make healthier decisions.
Adopting the "Healthy County" program was a no-brainer for Culberson County leaders.
"You know what the overall feel afterwards was when we stayed and talked a little bit after the meeting? Why haven't we done this earlier, sooner?" said Culberson County Judge, Carlos G. Urias.
"Healthy County" includes a health assessment, a pedometer and wellness program, challenges and contests, gym membership discounts, prescription discounts, health plans and discounts on medications.
Studies show diseases caused by an unhealthy lifestyle can be prevented.
"80% preventable. You're talking about heart attacks, diabetes, stroke. Preventable. If we can do our part for our employees, that'd be great," said Urias.
Incentives are aplenty, too.
"You stop smoking, we'll give you - we don't know yet - give you some days off, maybe some gift cards to GNC or monetary compensation. If you lose a few pounds here and there," said Urias.
Adding healthier foods to the vending machines could also be a possibility.
With healthy eating and exercise, Urias says that will cut back on absenteeism among the 70 county employees.
"[We'll have better] work production, less filing on your insurance claims, less time spent at doctor's office. That in itself will help the county maintain insurance plans for our employees," said Urias.
Employees can compete against other entities like the school, city and other counties. If each meets the workout goals, health assessment and a challenge against another county, that's another $95 in their pocket.