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July 19, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Insurance companies offer wellness programs for many of the same reasons other companies do – to lower health care costs. It’s estimated that over 75% of health care costs are attributable to chronic diseases. Many of these diseases could be prevented with behavioral changes, like proper nutrition, exercise, weight loss and smoking cessation.
While large companies can afford to offer expensive workplace wellness programs, many midsize and smaller companies simply can’t. All companies can take advantage of wellness programs offered by their health insurance carrier. Insurance companies offer several different wellness resources to help get a wellness program started. There are advantages and disadvantages of utilizing health insurance companies for your wellness program.
Most of the carrier offerings are free or at a nominal cost and are easy to utilize. Insurance companies offer resources such as implementation guides for a wellness program, educational tools, company newsletters and health assessment tools. The health risk assessment is a usually a free service and a great place to gather some data on your employee population to assist in implementing targeted programs. Because insurance companies often have alliances with health care providers, their wellness programs can take the extra step to help integrate care with an employee’s primary care physician.
Some health insurance companies offer incentives for employee’s who use their services or discount programs for being a member and participating in online programs. Some carriers may offer biometric screenings, free nicotine replacement therapies and flu shots. Every carrier is different so it’s important to know what your carrier has to offer.
Many of the programs offered through health insurance companies are online. If the employee population does not have access to computers or are not computer literate, taking advantage of these offerings can be difficult.
Wellness programs offered through insurance companies often don’t have great participation rates because employee’s need to be reminded and directed to the webpage to take advantage of most offerings. While there may be online educational material, nurse-lines and a health risk assessment, these alone do not drive behavior change.
However, with a limited budget, leveraging carrier resources is a great way to get your wellness program off the ground. Make sure to explore what your carrier has to offer and services you can utilize to enhance your current wellness program. With carriers constantly improving their wellness platforms, you may be surprised what is available to you at no additional cost!