The ROI of Healthy Employees, Part 1

We wrestle across the United States and in Connecticut with how to make sure people have health insurance they can afford so they’re covered if they get sick or hurt. What’s not making as many headlines are the enduring worries of employers, who are feeling the brunt of rising health care costs.

The price of chronic conditions

The number of people with chronic – and often costly – health conditions continues to rise. Employers are paying for this sad fact.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that chronic diseases and related lifestyle risk factors account for 86 percent of our nation’s total health care costs and are the leading drivers of health care costs for employers.

Did you know…

With chronic disease contributing to staggering losses each year in workplace productivity and increased absenteeism, wellness programs have moved from nice-to-have to a necessity. In fact, there’s been a boom in corporate wellness program popularity.

 

Wondering what worksite wellness could do for your business?

At the employee level, a wellness program shows that you care about employees’ health and well-being. At the corporate level, these programs can improve your bottom line by trimming your health care spending.

Helping employees maintain their health and address health concerns can actually yield a financial return on a wellness investment with:

At their core, worksite wellness programs encourage and reward employees to engage in and commit to healthy habits. Most employers start with basic programs, which often include:

 Fitness discounts    Educational materials and workshops
 Smoking cessation programs   Weight loss challenges

Young people entering the workforce today expect programs like these to be part of their benefit packages. One shortcoming, however, is that when these programs are voluntary you may see limited engagement and short-term success without much of an effect on your overall health care spending.

Step it up…

At the next level, is a category of wellness programs called health activation. These programs use data and analytics to identify employee health trends and drive early prevention, detection and health education. And stepping it up even more, a third category of programs layer in financial incentives as part of a health benefit plan to drive healthy clinical behaviors. For example, premium discounts and/or reduced or $0 copays for certain medical services or medications. The theory is: without the worry of how much going to the doctor or taking medicine for a chronic condition costs, employees and covered family members are more compliant. As a result, they may have fewer complications, including hospitalizations, which are so costly.

In part two of this series on corporate wellness programs, we will explain how health activation works and how taking an evidence-based approach may be the answer for your employees’ health and your company’s bottom line.

1. IBISWorld Industry Report. OD4621 Corporate Wellness Services in the US. February 2016. Accessed July 14, 2017.
2. CNNMoney. U.S. health spending rose nearly 6%, fastest since 2007 December 2, 2016. Accessed July 14, 2017.

About Roberta (Bert) Wachtelhausen

Senior Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer oversees sales, underwriting and marketing for all ConnectiCare health plans. Her responsibilities also include senior leadership of WellSpark Health, an affiliate of ConnectiCare that offers wellness programs that improve employees’ health outcomes while controlling employer costs. Visit wellsparkhealth.com for more information.