How does better employee health lead
to company financial health?
Let’s start by rearranging that question a little, as Towers Watson did in their 2011 report on employers’ struggles to cope with rising healthcare costs. In trying to put a lid on benefits costs, what is an employer’s biggest challenge? The employers surveyed put “Employees’ poor health habits” at the top of the list.
It edged out all the usual suspects: the high cost of new procedures and medical technologies; the high cost of catastrophic cases; the high cost of pharmaceuticals; the high cost of using providers who recommend too many services.
2011 Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in
Health Care Report | Towers Watson/National
Business Group on Health
This won’t be a surprise to most people who work with employee benefits. Most already know that 70% of claims are filed by workers with chronic conditions that are lifestyle-related, preventable or reversible. And these conditions are also linked to costly absenteeism, low productivity and worksite injury.
What many don’t know is that there has been a lot of progress in recent years in developing programs to address the problem, programs that keep employers’ benefits costs in check – and can actually help reverse them – while making a measurable difference in employees’ health and well-being.
Wellness programs have changed.
The program offered by the Indiana Bankers Association Group Insurance Trust doesn't look like the traditional wellness programs you’ve seen. In fact, it’s not a wellness program. It’s health trend management.
It focuses on changing employee health trends and gradually reversing healthcare cost trends.
It’s proactive. Health coaches take the initiative to study employees’ risks and actively reach out to help them. Coaches also reach out when claims or other ‘triggers’ indicate an employee has a new issue or needs help to get back on track. The program lets the employer be proactive, too. It includes communication campaign plans and materials and tools so that you can keep health, fitness, disease prevention and intervention on the radar screen for all employees.
It’s technology-assisted. The program is supported by an easy-to-use website that’s a customized resource for each employee. An employee with a weight problem will see content on his dashboard targeted to exercise, better nutrition and portion control. An employee who smokes will see content that helps her create and implement a strategy to quit.
Just as important is the technology that enables health coaches to segment the workplace population by risk and need. Technology enables coaches to track employee history and progress toward goals – the whole course of the wellness journey.
It emphasizes analysis, tracking and the bottom line. The program starts with an analysis of the health of your workforce. This can give you a warning of what expensive claims may be on the way in a year or two if you don’t intervene. It also sets a benchmark so you can see workforce health improving over time, and you can track the impact on healthcare expense.
To view a webinar of the IBA Group Insurance Trust's wellness program, click here.