A small change to Pinnacle's wellness program went a long way

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Banks may have trouble drawing a line from spending on wellness to saving on health care. But one institution has found a way to get the same wellness services for less money.

Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, Tenn., is cutting costs in half for its biometric screening program after adding more flexibility for employees. Those who participate in the program can reduce their health insurance premiums.

The flexibility was needed after the bank doubled in size in 2017, to about 2,400 employees, with its acquisition of BNC Bancorp, the parent of Bank of North Carolina.

Pinnacle now has $26.5 billion in assets and has 145 offices in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Employees previously had to come to regional hubs for annual screenings by a third-party provider, said Sarae Janes Lewis, director of associate and client experience at the bank.

As the bank grew, that became impractical.

Now employees can get the screening on their own, including through their own doctors. The change has cut the per-person costs for the screenings in half, because they can be covered as part of a routine physical, Lewis said.

The screenings also can be done at pharmacies and other sites that are part of a network under Pinnacle's wellness provider, Humana.

"Ultimately, we are able to offer a results-based wellness program to twice as many associates without a significant increase to our screening expense," Lewis said. "And the bonus is that it's more convenient than traveling to a Pinnacle office on 'screening day.' "

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Pinnacle employees who are screened and take part in other wellness activities earn points that can be redeemed for merchandise. They also can shave 20% off their health insurance premiums.

The wellness program is popular, with 84% of employees participating, Lewis said. The bank's health care costs overall have been flat the past few years, but Pinnacle is seeing progress in other areas.

Employees seem to have fewer risk factors as measured through biometric screening, even though the reduction has not led to a marked drop in claims so far, Lewis said.

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