What is a Corporate Wellness Program Supposed to Do?

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 12.58.52 PMShould Corporate Wellness programs:
1. Reduce costs?
2. Create happier, more productive people?

Can they do both?

The first focus area is more of a “win” for the corporation.  Network changes and benefit option shifts (plan adjustments like cost sharing) are ways that corporations reduce costs in their wellness programs. But what about the employee?  How do we create a win-win?

Challenges for Corporate Wellness Programs
*Fragmented programs- employees don't know what's offered
*Programs are viewed as an add on (not integrated with the culture)
*Programs don't get a large budget
*Chronic disease is rampant:
-1 in 4 adults have 2 or more chronic diseases
-70% of deaths are due to chronic diseases
-5% or less of the population gets the recommended level of physical activity (150 minutes of exercise per week)

Solutions
*See Wellness as a core benefit, combining insurance benefits with wellness programs
*Shift the view of risk.  The general concept of employer insurance is the transfer of risk.   Wellness, however, actually changes the risk itself. How?  By moving people out of high-risk categories and/or just keeping people to low-risk categories, wellness can change the nature of the risk itself.  Corporations can use wellness programs as a strategic driver to avoid preventable risks/costs.
*When setting a program budget, look at benefit contributions (ACA allows for 30% to be steered towards health outcomes)
*Involve incentives to provide extrinsic benefits for people to get involved.  But don't underestimate the value of a recognition program.  (Competition and fun is free!)
*Create a culture of healthy employees, as this culture creates residual value beyond simple cost reductions related to insurance.
*Evaluate health outcomes with good, objective data. Data is key in engaging leaders in the wellness programs, a core benchmark for success.
*Communication around the program should be positive and upbeat.
*Brand your own wellness program.

Take away?
Insurance is the defense, wellness programs are the offense. A good team has both!

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