Many companies today are taking a proactive approach to wellness and to trying to keep insurance costs in line. In many cases, creating an incentive-based wellness program can pay off not only in decreased premiums but also in healthier employees.
“We teamed up with our insurance provider to develop an incentive-based wellness program, and, so far, the response has been terrific. If employees meet the criteria set forth by the program, they are rewarded via discounts on their health insurance premiums,” says Cheryll Pacey, benefits administrator, Burns & McDonnell human resources.
And everybody wins. Employees save money on their premiums — and get healthy in the process.
Programs might include a number of variables. Typically, participants must go to their primary care physicians for a physical, or an employer might hold on-site screenings to check cholesterol, blood sugar and other vitals. Participants then might complete an anonymous online survey about their health, which allows for the collection of aggregate data. As a final step, employees can accumulate points based on their participation in a variety of wellness activities — like lunch-and-learns, a corporate weight loss program, fitness classes and/or participation in team sports.
Often, your insurance provider can play a huge role in an incentive-based wellness program. “I know that our carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas City, has been extremely cooperative and has provided a lot of the wellness programs we offer, including things like facilitating a companywide weight-loss program,” says Pacey.
Companies with a commitment to and a focus on employee health and wellness can likewise reap great benefits. Healthy employees are happier and more productive, which results not only in a continuous output of high-quality work but also creates a positive company culture in which employees are encouraged to thrive.
“We want to inspire healthy behaviors in our employees,” Pacey says. “It not only makes them feel more valued, it adds to their overall ability to enjoy life to the fullest. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?”
Whether you’re thinking about exploring participation-based insurance discount programs for your company or working somewhere that you think this might be a good idea to explore implementing, start with your HR department. After all, they’re in the people business — and keeping employees motivated and healthy is always important to them.