September 25, 2017

A Healthy Perspective on Wellness Programs

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    Over the last 5 years, the Affordable Care Act has made Americans and their employers more aware of their position as health care consumers than ever before.  Prior to 2011, health care premiums were growing at shocking double-digit increases. Since that time, the average monthly health care premium growth has slowed to 9% as more companies are taking proactive steps to control their health care costs.  One contributing factor is implementation of corporate wellness programs.

    On a conscious level, we all know that a major factor impacting health care premiums is the level of health risk of the members of an insured group – about 70% of us on a national scale.As more information has become available, as a group, we’ve extended our life expectancies and learned that lifestyle choices have a huge influence on our short and long-term health.

    How can companies help start to sway our national health stats and costs toward the positive? Let’s look at an example.

    Katlyn proudly lands her first “real” job after college. She has a job description, her tile in the signature line of her company emails, and health insurance. Here benefits don’t stop there. Along with being able to afford to order from something other than the $1 menu at a fast food place, Katlyn’s company has a cafeteria with healthy food options and a healthy recipes exchange board. A few times per year the company sponsors organized runs which Katlyn’s decides to participate in. She gets a health screen once per year that let’s Katlyn bench mark her relevant health stats, something she never even thought to pay attention to before. Katlyn gets a discount on her insurance premiums for participating. At each screen, she is reminded to wear her seat beat, limit her alcohol consumption, and to take advantage of preventive health care like teeth cleanings and annual physicals which she does.

    In time, Katlyn decides to use some of her new income to buy a house. The experience is pretty stressful on top of her new job. She attends company sponsored Lunch and Learn on coping with the stress and makes a commitment to attend yoga classes offered at her office 3 times a week.  She likes yoga so much she joins a gym, after all she gets reimbursed a portion of the membership cost.

    When Katlyn’s father passes away, she is devastated. Her manager encourages her to leverage the company’s Employee Assistance Program. Katlyn is able to process her feelings with a counselor in a healthy way, something she might never have done if she’d had to find a counselor on her own and pay out-of-pocket. In full, Katlyn’s over health gets a major boost from these great resources readily available to her throughout her career with her company.

    This all sounds great, right? But what would all these great benefits end of up costing Katlyn’s company? Statistically, these benefits would save Katlyn’s company 20-25% more on their health care costs than companies that do not offer comprehensive wellness programs. The company will also save with lower absenteeism, lower workers compensation and disabilities claims, and they will reduce their recruiting costs, making a wellness program a darn good business decision.  Katlyn will also experience lower premiums year-over-year than her friends who work for companies that don’t have wellness programs.

    It might seem daunting to get a program like the hypothetic company in my example off the ground especially if your business is just getting started. Even starting small with employee health education can begin to build momentum that will start to significantly improve the health of your employees.

    BBD canhelp connect you with wellness expertswho can work with you to develop a wellness program that suits your company’s needs in a step-by-step approach. Email Joy@BeyondBBD.comand let us know what you would like to see your company include in your wellness program that would make the greatest impact to a culture of wellness.

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