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Humana VP talks to Hall businesses about wellness benefits
Montgomery: ‘Sitting is the new smoking’
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Dr. John Montgomery, vice president and medical officer for Humana's Georgia/Florida commercial markets, mingles Thursday morning inside the Brenau University Downtown Center prior to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s sixth annual Health Care Reform Seminar. As featured keynote speaker during the seminar, Dr. Montgomery addressed how employers can best support a healthy employee population. - photo by Scott Rogers

It used to be the focus was reaching a number of minutes per day or week for exercise.

Not anymore, said Dr. John Montgomery, vice president and medical officer for Humana Florida/Georgia commercial markets, addressing a Gainesville audience Thursday morning.

“I have walking meetings,” he said. “I don’t sit down at the desk anymore. You create a culture in that workplace, whether it’s stationary bicycles or ellipticals or treadmill desks. You create that workforce change and you’ll see incredible engagements.”

Montgomery was the featured speaker at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 6th Annual Health Care Reform Seminar at Brenau Downtown Center theater.

The chamber holds the event each year primarily to inform employers of the latest changes in the federal Affordable Care Act. This year, there was little to report, as a Republican effort to repeal and replace the law collapsed.

Much of the message at Thursday’s event, which drew about 125 people, was that ACA will remain the “law of the land.”

Brett Fowler, vice president and partner of Gainesville insurance firm Turner, Wood and Smith, one of the event’s sponsors, talked some about how ACA was intended to increase competition in the insurance exchange but that “the opposite has happened.”

He noted Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia Healthcare Plan’s announcement in early August that it was offering exchange plans in 85 Georgia counties “that might not otherwise have access to health insurance coverage.”

Hall is not one of those counties, but the move should haven’t much impact anyway as the Blue Cross plan didn’t have Northeast Georgia Medical Center as in-network.

As ACA is mostly unchanging at this point, the chamber’s forum largely focused on the law’s compliance and how businesses should prepare for an audit.

And capping the event was Montgomery’s presentation.

He talked about the emphasis on health prevention measures and employer focus on fitness.

“Sitting is the new smoking,” Montgomery said.

Employers have the opportunity to push a healthy message more than doctors because of the time employees spend at work versus the doctor’s office.

“The employer clearly has that individual captivated more than I do,” he said.

Humana tested its wellness program on employees before rolling it out to customers, and now Montgomery said he finds himself striving to “get those 10,000 steps in.”

“I’m 57 and I haven’t found a nursing home in America I want to be in,” he said.

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