With the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and many small businesses having to purchase group insurance for the first time, many companies are now employing company wellness plans. Under the ACA, employers are allowed to “increase cost sharing for health coverage by 30% for employees with health risks and 50% for smokers, if they offer a wellness program.”
There are two main types of programs – but which one saves the most money? Furthermore, how can companies increase employee participation in these wellness plans?
How do the company and employees participate in a way that is cost-effective and mutually beneficial?
There are two main types of wellness plans: lifestyle and disease/condition management.
The lifestyle plan is the most common. These programs are usually structured around physical well-being, involvement in the community, and challenges with incentives: weight loss, for example.
The idea behind these types of programs is to gradually change the company environment by encouraging healthier lifestyles for employees. In the long run, the goal is for the company to save money due to people not calling in sick or developing major health problems due to unhealthy living.
Disease/Condition Management Plans
Disease and condition management plans directly tie into the group insurance program. This concept is based on staying healthy and managing existing conditions like diabetes or heart disease. A team of nurses conducts yearly physicals and reminds people when it may be time to see their physicians.
The incentive is a much lower insurance rate and is based on the “score” of the physical. Those who qualify as “well” receive significantly lower rates than those who don’t, and choose not to get better.
Which Plan is Best?
Disease and condition management plans will save companies the most money in the short-run. The lifestyle plans tend to lead to better outcomes over the long run. Then which one is the best?
Well, combining the two seems to be the right way to go.
Studies have found that comprehensive wellness programs that employ both lifestyle change and disease management lead to higher participation and positive outcomes. This is due in part to the types of incentives and penalties encompassed in a comprehensive plan. It also is due in part to the Herd Mentality. Disease management programs are great for saving money, however, when coupled with a lifestyle plan, it can save a company culture.
Drive Participation By Making a Healthy Competition
People are competitive. This is no clearer then when on a sales floor. Sales people compete with each other, other teams, and themselves. Incentives based on “wellness points” can greatly increase participation in the comprehensive program. When focusing on all types of wellness, the company can design a program with challenges and contests to get employee buy-in.
Employees who are actively challenging themselves and earning points start to see benefits like: water bottles, salad shakers, bags, 1 hour of PTO, lunch, all the way up to tickets to a sporting event or a drawing for a prize at the end of the year.
What they get will not go unnoticed by their colleagues. The “I want what they’ve got” mentality will light a fire.
When employees are receiving a huge break on their insurance premiums and striving to meet the challenges set before them in a well-rounded wellness program, the sky is the limit on what they can accomplish and morale can greatly increase.
When employees believe their company actively cares about their health and well-being, they start to care more as well. When they see their leadership, managers, and colleagues all reaping the same consistent rewards, a sense of belonging won’t be far behind.