Is your wellness program paying you?

Wellness programs have been getting a bad rap lately. Employees become frustrated with required testing or penalties when they don’t achieve results. Employers say they simply don’t work. In reality, not all wellness programs are created equal and are often not used properly, reducing their true value.

A good wellness program, when selected and executed properly, puts money back into the wallets of both the business owner and the staff by reducing reliance on health insurance. It provides a structure through which participants become better educated, more active and healthy and more confident consumers of the health care system.

A well-utilized wellness program can mean immediate cost savings for everyone. A healthier employee with better knowledge of how to use the health care system will rely less on insurance, drastically reducing their out-of-pocket costs. Lower overall usage of insurance means the annual, painful increase in premiums can be a thing of the past. Great news for both the business owner and staff.

Following are three things you should know to implement a wellness program that pays you back every year.

Know if your current wellness program is working
Did your health care costs go up this enrollment period? Then your wellness program is not working. The sole purpose of a true wellness program is to keep insurance costs from future rate increases. Just like car insurance, health insurance rate increases are directly tied to the claims you submitted the year prior. No matter what wellness programs you test out, the litmus test is a cost plateau at enrollment time.

Know which wellness program to pick
No two wellness programs are exactly the same. In fact, any program that gets employees active can be considered a wellness program, from a basic discounted gym membership to a full-fledged biometric screening with mandated improvement goals.

Most middle-of-the-road programs offer tips and resources for employees to get active, eat a balanced diet, and learn how to cope with stress. Business owners shouldn’t stop there, though. Find programs that also offer patient advocacy, telemedicine services, and discount programs.

Patient advocacy – Third party health groups help patients navigate health care claims, often lowering bills up to 30 percent. In certain circumstances, they also can pull cost comparisons for procedures at different facilities so patients can pick the out-of-pocket option that works best for them.
Telemedicine – Doctors and nurses are available over the phone instead of in person, saving costs on co-pays, lost wages, and prescriptions. They can treat common illnesses, infections, and allergies in the comfort of the patient’s home. They also can help a patient decide if they can treat their illness at home or when they need medical attention.
Discount cards – Some wellness programs offer excellent discounts on health and wellness products nationwide including pharmacy, vision care, eye surgery, dental, imaging facilities, bloodwork, chronic illness care, vitamins, dental, even movie theaters and exercise classes.

Know how to educate your employees
Keeping the number of claims down requires employees to prevent diseases that result from unhealthy lifestyles, but it also requires employees to know when to tap into health care and when to use independent community resources instead.

Once a wellness program is selected and employees have enrolled, put an ongoing education program in place so they understand all of the features and benefits they can tap into, know more about when they need to go to a doctor and when they can consult medically-certified independent experts, and most importantly, how they can save money. Showing that you have their best interest in mind helps improve morale at any size company.

How it pays
Herus Group works with business owners and human resources managers to select, enroll, and implement the right wellness program that will keep insurance rates level, and employees happy, healthy and productive. Contact us today to learn more about how a wellness program can pay you in 2018.