Posted by Health Wellness | Posted in workplace wellness | Posted on 22-08-2010
According to Gordian Health Solutions, the effectiveness of wellness programs in improving health and decreasing healthcare costs is directly linked to incentives –
the more substantial the incentives,
the higher the success rate.
Incentives can range from tokens of achievement, such as t-shirts, water bottles and sports equipment, to more substantial financial awards, such as cash incentives or copay vouchers for the successful completion of a program.
Nationwide Insurance is seeing results from a small incentive program initiated by one of the corporation’s on-site nurses. to encourage lunchtime walking, the worker has informally launched a “shoelace program” modeled after the karate-belt color system.
Staff Members progress through the color scale until they reach “black-lace” status. the reward system has resulted in more staff members making commitments to walk during their lunch hour.
At the high end of the reward spectrum, some companies pay cash to staff members who meet wellness objectives. LuK, Inc. offers staff members $250 for kicking the tobacco habit and remaining smoke free for 12 months.
For logging fitness points that add up to 10 miles a month, workers are eligible for health assessments, which could result in reward amounts of up to $225.
The most effective motivator, as reported by Gordian research, comes through linking participation in wellness programs directly to insurance premiums. Doing so clearly demonstrates to employees the positive effects of wellness on their own healthcare costs.
Often, the first step in linking wellness programming to insurance coverage is lowering deductibles for wellness care or eliminating deductibles altogether. By adding this benefit, businesses can encourage staff members to undertake routine screenings and other procedures to respond to health problems before they become chronic.
Early detection benefits both patient health and business healthcare costs.
Incentivizing wellness program participation with healthcare credits
More frequently, corporations are going beyond increased wellness care coverage and looking to demonstrate the importance of wellness by linking participation to employees’ bottom lines.
Worthington Industries has recently rolled out a program that permits workers to eliminate their portion of the insurance premium by enrolling in a Healthy Options wellness program.
During the first year of the Healthful Options program, workers and their spouses complete Personal Health Assessments and medical screenings to determine their levels of health risks.
Nurses, dietitians and exercise professionals are available to help moderate- and high-risk participants create individual action plans for improved health through the use of educational materials, behavior modification, telephone help from third-party program health coordinators, and formal health management programs.
By completing the assessments, employees earn their full premium credit. Because some plans at Worthington require no staff member contribution, a cash award takes the place of a credit in those cases.
During year two of the program, the wellness bar is raised slightly. to continue to receive the wellness credit, participants in the moderate- to high-risk category will be required to work at establishing goals with third-party health coordinators.
Year three raises the bar again, requiring participants to show progress in meeting objectives and to continue to work with health coordinators to reach objectives.
After year three, Worthington Industries staff members will be on the wellness track. the business believes that’ll mean a healthier workforce and cost savings for staff members and the business.
The well being of Worthington employees is the foundation of this program, and both employees and the company are expected to benefit from the long-term advantages of the Healthy Choices Wellness Program.
While Worthington has taken a broad approach to wellness, other companies have found success in offering incentives in specific areas. Longaberger, for example, offers a discount on healthcare policies for workers who don’t use tobacco.
A personal employee who does not use tobacco saves $7 per bi-weekly pay. for tobacco-free workers with family coverage whose families are also tobacco-free, the savings increases to $14 per pay.
The next step – Penalizing harmful behaviors
As it stands, healthcare is the only kind of insurance that doesn’t focus on penalizing for behaviors that put the insured party at risk. With healthcare costs rising so dramatically, that could soon change.
Just as an accident likely raises auto insurance premiums, increasing premiums for those who engage in unhealthful behaviors is a possible next step in companys’ attempts to manage health care costs.
Reports that staff members would support this kind of action are stacking up. One Ohio corporation conducted an informal survey that indicated staff members would consider it a morale boost when health-conscious staff members were relieved of some burden of subsidizing care for staff members who engage in behaviors that negatively affect their health.
Whether or not this kind of program gains popularity, one thing is sure – the need to control the rise in health care costs is becoming ever more pressing.
Take the first step
No matter what the strategy, from offering workers medical resources to providing incentives for healthy behaviors, businesss have a real opportunity to improve morale and productivity, reduce absenteeism and control healthcare costs through wellness.
The first step is committing to taking one, whatever size effort is appropriate for your organization. Big strides start with small steps.