Employer Wellness Programs - Can They Lower Health Care Costs?
Unhealthy lifestyles contribute to the leading causes of death
in the US, which are cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, accidents and respiratory diseases.
According to Employee Wellness USA
, only 25% of employers offered health management programs in 1996. This is staggering considering statistics now show that for every dollar spent on wellness, there is a savings of $2.30 to $10.10!
The new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as part of health care reform, focuses on prevention and wellness instead of diagnosis and treatment.
The new trend is for employers to look at ways to control health care costs by educating employees about their responsibility in managing their own health.
Organizations that offer wellness programs have been successful in lowering their overall health-care costs especially when incorporating healthy lifestyle incentive strategies.
Employers are figuring out the importance of developing cultures that promote positive health while engaging employees in the process. Employees need to understand the personal benefit before they embrace a healthy lifestyle. Leaders who demonstrate healthy lifestyle choices can help influence a health conscious workplace.
Some employers offer wellness programs to help educate staff on healthy-living. These training programs often cover health topics such as managing blood pressure, healthy eating, weight management, stress management, cholesterol management, cancer prevention, exercise programs and heart healthy lifestyles. Teaching the basics of these topics is a great way to start employees on a healthy lifestyle path.
I worked in the health care industry for many years and now realize that I took for granted the ongoing health education we received as employees. The medical center I worked for held classes that taught us about diet, exercise and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. I was offered free health screenings once a year and when I quit smoking (I quit because they made it so inconvenient that it was easier to quit than to stand outside in the rain or cold), I participated in a lunch walking program that was available to staff. This experience helped me form a habit of walking and daily exercise that I have maintained to this day. Continued on the next page