Wellness Programs

Wellness programs are being implemented in large and small companies across the country, and the results are positively impacting the bottom line. “Research is showing that it’s more cost-effective to invest in preventive health practices, such as screenings, immunizations, health risk appraisals, behavioral coaching, and health awareness/education, rather than spending resources exclusively on the small minority of employees/dependents who are responsible for high-cost health claims.” A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report revealed that, at worksites with exercise programs as components of their wellness programs, healthcare costs decreased between 20% and 55%, short-term sick leave was lowered from 38% to 32%, and productivity increased from 50% to 52%.

The benefits of wellness programs in the workplace can be quite substantial, and the overall positive effect it can have on staff members’ morale can be significant. “When your staff are healthy, they have a lower risk of injury, lower absenteeism and a greater resilience.”

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who studied successful strategies to prevent cardiovascular disease, estimated that over a two to five-year period, companies with comprehensive workplace wellness programs and appropriate health plans in place can yield $3 to $6 for each dollar invested. This may, likewise, reduce the likelihood of employee heart attacks and strokes. Also, a 2011 report by Health Fairs Direct, which analyzed over 50 studies related to corporate and employee wellness, showed that the ROI on specific wellness related programs ranged from $1.17 to $6.04. In general, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, it is estimated that worksite health promotion programs result in a benefit-to-cost ratio of $3.48 in reduced health care costs and $5.82 in lower absenteeism costs per dollar invested.

Additionally, worksite health programs can improve productivity, increase employee satisfaction, demonstrate concern for employees, and improve morale in the workplace.

The Affordable Care Act increases the cap on incentives which may be granted to employees for participating in wellness programs from 20% of the total cost of employee-only healthcare to 30% of the total cost. Smoking cessation must reach 50% of the total cost. This means that employers may incentivize employees with significant rewards for hitting their targets. Theoretically, this saves both the employer and the employee money, especially when these programs are implemented on a large scale.

The Merriam Agency is pleased to announce the addition of Francis X. Foley to our staff as Health and Benefits Department Manager. With more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, Fran specializes in the design and implementation of individual, group and employee benefit plans. This includes health & welfare, life, disability, long term care and voluntary worksite benefits, as well as helping clients navigate the intricacies of the national Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). 

Fran will be happy to meet with you to discuss your benefits needs. You may reach him by calling The Merriam Agency toll-free at (877) MERRIAM (637-7426), Ext. 205.

Shannon McMeel
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