The Partnership for Prevention
was formed to encourage Fortune 1000 companies to consider making
workforce health a CEO issue and adopt strategies to promote
prevention and wellness. After several years of double-digit
rate increases for health insurance, companies are realizing
that one of the best ways to slow the cost increases is to have
employees take more responsibility for both costs and health
choices. A majority of companies surveyed feel that the best
way for reducing costs is financial incentives to encourage
employees to adopt healthier lifestyles.
Nearly 100% of employers surveyed say that
health costs will be a critical or significant concern over
the next five years, according to a survey by United
Benefit Advisors. More employers are adopting higher deductible
health plans with HRA’s or HSA’S, wellness programs,
and expanded disease management programs in order to control
ever-increasing health care costs.
Failure to deal with these issues could
be disastrous for an employer. Wayne Sensor, Chief
Executive Officer of Alegent Health recently stated, “I
think that we have built a health care machinery we can’t
afford. I think we are choking the economic engine of America.”
In his October 2005 newsletter, Dr. Andrew Weil stated, “I
think rising health- care costs are becoming the major economic
issue in our nation”. Obesity costs California businesses
billions of dollars each year. Projected costs for 2005 may
reach 28 billion dollars for direct and indirect medical costs,
worker’s compensation, and lost productivity. California
has experienced one of the fastest growing rates of obesity
of any state.
According to California Health and Human
Services Secretary Kim Belshe, “The obesity epidemic
is more than a public health crisis, it is an economic crisis.”
What is frightening is that most people do not even realize
that they are obese, which is defined as only 20% above normal
weight. There is a great need for additional education on weight
and resulting diseases, and the workplace is an ideal venue.
Wellness education and programs can result in a significant
return on investment and, if structured properly, can produce
results in a very short period of time.
Although many employers have attempted
some form of wellness program in the past, results
from those efforts have been disappointing. In many cases, the
healthier employees participated for incentives, such as gym
memberships, but those who needed it most did not take advantage
of the program in a meaningful way. Companies are looking at
ways to encourage more employees to buy into the wellness movement.
A recent webinar hosted by Human Resource
Executive Magazine and presented by Carlson Marketing Group
titled, "Healthier Employees; Healthier Bottom Line: Engaging
Employees is the Missing Link in Managing Health Care Costs,"
drove this point home. This session provided actionable advice
on how companies are achieving higher impact with their wellness
investments by focusing on employee engagement. It also highlighted
how you can create an Economic Engagement Model to forecast
the potential impact for your organization. Contact me if you
want a link to the broadcast.
Employers can simply no longer ignore
the issue of their employee’s unhealthy lifestyles
and must take action to engage them in a meaningful wellness
program to reduce health costs, absenteeism and lost productivity.
Employees also benefit as they derive better health and greater
satisfaction in both their personal and professional lives.
The alternative is being caught in a non-competitive position
and severely impacting the bottom-line of the business.
Framberger is President
of the Get Happy Get Healthy Be Wealthy system.
and Corporate Wellness Programs that Work!