Michelin recruits CMO to improve wellness efforts

Register now

Michelin North America executive Barry Cross announced Wednesday that the tire company is recruiting a chief medical officer to keep its employees “as healthy as genetically possible.”

That decision is one of many that Michelin has made to create a sustainable culture of health that yields long-term positive return on investment, Cross said during a keynote address in Nashville at the Benefits Forum and Expo, hosted by Employee Benefit News.

“It’s the first phase of a long 10- to 15-year policy,” said the company’s senior director of total rewards benefits, compensation and retirement.

Part of that long-term vision includes a variety of health tools offered to Michelin’s 22,000 North American employees, such as biometrics, personal health reviews and family health centers.

Cross shared that he personally benefited from the biometrics scan, which he compared to the United Nations.

“I had so many flags,” he said. “Undeterred, I changed my lifestyle.”

The biometrics scorecard helped him lose nearly 50 pounds and Cross said he hasn’t had any flags in the two years since his first scan.

See also: Biometric screenings found to be more cost-effective when conducted on-site

Beyond improved health, monetary benefits act as an incentive for Michelin employees: They can earn up to $2,000 a year as a health reimbursement arrangement for a biometrics scan.

Michelin spends about $250 million a year on total healthcare, which includes four family health centers with annual operating budgets of $5 million.

The Michelin Family Health Centers, located in Greenville, South Carolina — also where the company is headquartered — Lexington, South Carolina, and Ardmore, Oklahoma, offer 30-minute appointments to employees. He describes the centers as “concierge medicine,” which is becoming a growing trend in the benefits package for employers.

See also: Companies move toward self-insurance as healthcare rates increase

Through the centers, along with gym reimbursements, free medication for condition management and on-site gyms, Michelin reduced metabolic syndrome by 12% in three years.
Cross said that Michelin is also creating call centers for employees to continue to improve their health.

“Employees can call in and talk to a human being and get some real pointed advice,” he said. “We’re going to take that lead and engage more richly with our folks.”

Despite all of these healthcare and wellness offerings, Michelin, like many other large companies, is struggling with rising healthcare costs. Cross said his company is seeing $32 to $40 million in medical increases annually, a trend that most employers are finding to be unmanageable.

See also: Can big data help improve wellness programs?

By holding its employees accountable for their health, Michelin hopes to see its catastrophic claims decrease and avoid cost shifting to employees, Cross said.

The bottom line?

“If you believe that you’re investing in your employees and their well-being and you think you’re doing enough, you may not be,” he said.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.