BCBS, HHS join forces on national walking initiative

WASHINGTON: BlueCross BlueShield Association (BCBS) partnered this month with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to kick off the first annual National Walk at Lunch Day, with large crowds participating in 47 states across the country.

WASHINGTON: BlueCross BlueShield Association (BCBS) partnered this month with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to kick off the first annual National Walk at Lunch Day, with large crowds participating in 47 states across the country.

The event, part of the BCBS' ongoing workplace health and wellness efforts, is an extension of the five-year-old Walking Works campaign, which raises awareness that small amounts of activity during the workday can dramatically increase one's health. The day will now serve as an annual opportunity for BCBS to highlight its programs to the media and encourage the reducing of unnecessary medical costs.

"Ultimately, walking is such a simple thing to do," said John Parker, MD of external affairs for BCBS. "While we understand the importance of a multi-faceted approach to health and wellness, this is one step people could do to reduce long-term conditions, and also hopefully reduce healthcare costs."

Washington-based public affairs firm GMMB has assisted BCBS on communications efforts surrounding the campaign. Although BCBS is made up of 39 independent, locally operated companies, the association provided national outreach and worked to provide local companies with necessary communications tools, Parker noted.

"Each plan takes a national cue, but really tailors it to its own market," he said.

National Walk at Lunch Day on April 18 was highlighted with an event on the National Mall, with members of Congress joining Dr. Allan Korn, BCBS chief medical officer, and Admiral John Agwunobi, HHS assistant secretary for health.

With the event only just completed, Parker said communications efforts to expand the event next year are already under way.

"We're excited about the foundation that was built with this new piece of the Walking Works program," Parker said. "We're also excited to identify other potential partners at the national level and work to engage more employers in the future."

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