Posted on 06 Dec 11
In the last issue of Insurance Unplugged, I discussed the trend among companies to increasingly offer Voluntary Benefits and more flexibility and customization in an Employee Benefits program. One of the trends that we’re seeing among companies is the promotion of wellness programs – getting employees to embrace a healthy lifestyle. These programs, of course, are meant to help employees get on track to healthy living through exercise and eating right, but they will also help companies reduce health care and Workers Comp costs in the long run.
The American Heart Association (AHA) in a paper published last year wrote that with more than 130 million Americans employed across the United States, workplaces provide a large audience for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke prevention activities. “Experience has shown that workplace wellness programs are an important strategy to prevent the major shared risk factors for CVD and stroke, including cigarette smoking, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, physical inactivity, and diabetes.” An estimated 25% to 30% of companies’ medical costs per year are spent on employees with the major risk
factors listed above.
According to the AHA, when programs at the workplace are successful, their influence extends beyond the individual workers to immediate family members, who are often exposed to their favorable lifestyle changes. Worksite wellness programs that can reduce these risk factors can ultimately decrease the physical and economic burden of chronic diseases, including CVD, stroke, and certain cancers.
Yet it’s not only health care costs that benefit from wellness programs. Workers Comp and safety programs have to take into consideration the changing demographics in the workforce, with both older and heavier employees. For example, contractors may need a wider variety of fall protection devices that are suitable for employees of all sizes, according to a recent report by Advisen that illustrated the types of issues that need to be addressed today. Stretching programs have also garnered favorable results in terms of fewer strain injuries, according to the same report.
As an insurance agency working with many different clients in diverse industries offering Workers Comp, Group Health insurance, and/or Group Disability, you have an opportunity to share these and other findings with your clients, and to help promote wellness in their companies.