Wellness Programs at Work
Dr. Sreedhar Potarazu, MBA, an industry leader in healthcare and healthcare technology, recently discussed the growing efforts of employers and policy makers in taking an active role in improving the health of their employees to reduce costs related to absenteeism and increase productivity.
He stated that many employees are now receiving health benefits in the workplace from wellness programs initiated by their employers. To encourage workers to take advantage of the new opportunities offered to them, many health services are being made available to them without the need for copayment. Examples of these services include screening for colorectal cancer, smoking cessation and counseling on obesity. Pregnant women are also given access to gestational diabetes screening and wellness visits. Flu shots have become mandatory for some employees, who are warned to get them or risk being fired.
Dr. Potarazu also reports that soon the Affordable Care Act will take effect, and many employees will receive greater incentives for participation in wellness programs such as smoking cessation or weight loss. Employees will have 30% to 50% of their wellness costs paid out as incentives to encourage them to get involved in these programs.
Studies show that motivating workers to participate in wellness programs promoting healthier lifestyles have cost benefits. A study published in the journal Health Affairs last year assessed that every dollar spent on wellness could save medical costs by more than $3 and could reduce the cost of absenteeism or productivity loss by almost three dollars. It is also projected that the overall cost for healthcare in the country could be dramatically reduced when the Affordable Care Act takes effect. This will help address preventable diseases such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes which takes a significant portion of a company’s healthcare costs.
Potarazu, S. Why Working Out at Work Can Work. MedPage Today.