Wednesday, April 17, 2013

3 Proven Employer Sponsored Health and Wellness Programs

Healthcare costs are second only to energy costs when it comes the financial worries of Chief Financial Officers (CFO's) throughout corporate America today. A recent survey of 275 CFO's ranked healthcare expenditures a major concern (8 or above on a scale of 10) when it came to the financial viability of their company.

These concerns have rightfully earned their place at the top of the competing business world because an enormous amount of money is at stake here. Providing healthcare coverage to employees is big business and it doesn't take long for these costs to add up. Take the costs of insurance premiums for example. The average annual premium in 2012 for single coverage was $5,615 and for family coverage this rose to $15,745 [1]. While employees are taking on more of the burden with these costs, the fact remains that employers are still paying for the majority of it. On average, employers pay for roughly 77% of healthcare insurance premiums, while employees pay the remaining 23%.

These costs for insurance premiums are just a drop in the bucket compared to overall expenditures on healthcare though. They do not include deductibles, copays, out-of-pocket expenses, etc. In other words, simply providing healthcare coverage for employees does not translate into lower overall healthcare costs. It simply provides access to expensive medical care for the disease management of a chronically sick workforce. Employers should strive for ways to increase the health of their employees and not for ways to shift the burden of healthcare coverage towards their workers resulting in increased expenditures on medical care. Remember, a healthy workforce is a more productive company!

To meet this solution many businesses are starting employee sponsored health and wellness programs. While I commend the companies taking this approach, I also warn of the ineffectiveness of most of these well intentioned programs. These wellness programs focus on the status quo - becoming more active and eating "healthy". Unfortunately, the eating "healthy" part results in employees staying chronically sick. There is actually little to nothing gained financially in terms of major reductions in healthcare expenditures for employers involved. It simply looks good that these businesses are being more "health-minded".

Recent published data proves my point when looking at the results of an employer sponsored health and wellness program at PepsiCo [2]. A total of 55,030 people were followed during a 3 year intervention. Over all 3 years, the program was associated with a per member per month cost reduction of only $38. The study concluded that "no significant effects were observed for lifestyle management over the 3 intervention years." In other words, only pennies on the dollar were saved while employees stayed sick. It is simply not enough to settle for results like this.

There are employee health and wellness programs out there, however, which do get results. The reason for this is because they refuse to settle for the status quo. Telling people to eat 5-6 servings of fruits and veggies while continuing the rest of their Standard American Diet is the status quo. It's the reason people stay sick after participating in most corporate wellness programs. It's time for a change. It's time for a new breed of corporate wellness programs...

Below are three programs designed to produce big results. They substantially reduce employer's healthcare related costs, dramatically improve the health of employees by preventing and reversing chronic diseases, and also produce a more productive workforce due to these changes. These programs are the answer to a robust American workforce. These programs are also the answer to our current healthcare crisis. Now it's time for you to take action. Educate yourself on the following employee health and wellness programs and then forward this information on to your employer. Email it to your corporate wellness department, your boss, or even the CEO of the company. Everybody wins when everybody gets healthy. There's no need to wait any longer!

For more information click here.

Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP)

For more information click here.

The Wellness Forum Employer Cost Reductions Plans

For more information click here.

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by Dustin Rudolph, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacist

Check out Dustin Rudolph's book The Empty Medicine Cabinet to start your journey towards better health. This step-by-step guide leads you through many of today's common chronic diseases (heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and more), giving you the facts on foods versus medications in treating these medical conditions. The book also contains an easy-to-follow guide on how to adopt a whole foods, plant-based diet as a part of an overall lifestyle change, producing the best possible health outcomes for you and your family. Hurry and get your copy today!

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1 Claxton G, Rae M, Panchal N, Damico A, et al. Health benefits in 2012: moderate premium increases for employer-sponsored plans; young adults gained coverage under ACA. Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Oct;31(10):2324-33. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2012.0708.
2 Liu H, Harris KM, Weinberger S, et al. Effect of an employer-sponsored health and wellness program on medical cost and utilization. Popul Health Manag. 2013 Feb;16(1):1-6. doi: 10.1089/pop.2011.0108.

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