Santa Barbara Wellness Directory
Corporate Wellness Becomes CEO Issue
by Michael Framberger

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.

About the Author

Corporate Wellness Programs and Services Educator Michael Framberger, Wellness Insurance Agent and CertificationMichael Framberger is President of the Get Happy Get Healthy Be Wealthy system.

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