The cost of healthcare in the United States has continually risen in the past ten years. The average cost per person grew by 85% from 2013 from 2010; this causing Americans to forgo having health insurance. This has cause a great hardship on the united states and action had to be taken. In 2010 the Affordable Care Act was passed to give all Americans access to health care. This law opened the door for many uninsured, children, retires and those not covered through the workplace for various reasons.
As prices increase for the employee’s the same is said for the employer’s. in 2014 it was reported that 60% of companies have some sort of wellness initiative. Wellness programs can be a great in the workplace since many times they are accompanied with health insurance. Healthier individuals pay less for care and have fewer missed days of school and work. Preventive health care has been a focus of many programs.
The most popular programs include:
- Get up and move- have employees walk more
- Flu shots- reduce the number of sick days used
- Sick time- staying at home and not working sick
- Better options of food- does the cafe offer health options
- Stress reduction in the work space- yoga or meditation center
- Virtual health coaching- from sleeping better, chronic illness management
- 24 hour nurse hot lines – reduce trips to the emergency room/ urgent care
- Exercise equipment in the office or group rates to facilities
- Health screening- rewarding employees for vital statistics in range
Implementing wellness programs do have to cost very much. Walking programs can be a simple as marking miles around the building and handing out pedometers to inspire people to reach 10,000 steps per day. Smoking Cessations programs help people kick the habit as well as save money on their life and health insurances. Additionally if a person stop smoking the impact can lower their blood pressure, reduce the risk of strokes, and Lung Cancer. Health screening before benefit enrollment can also work in a employers favor. Some companies offer funds for the individuals MRA account to help lower the out of pocket cost for the next year, when they participate. In many cases these screening can indicate a issue before it is to late, for example someone’s glucose is elevated for no reason while fasting.
There is a debate surrounding employers gaining a true benefit from having wellness programs. With the top 100 companies off the Fortune 500 list having implemented some preventive care programs it looks positive. Looking at over well being can have long lasting benefits on life expectancy. Wellness programs in the workplace look like a new standard moving forward.