Big companies, insurers urge uptake in wellness programs

Aetna and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association are joining forces with some of the biggest companies to urge the entire business community to embrace wellness programs as a way to lower healthcare costs and boost employee health.

In addition to the insurers, executives from Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon and several other companies are coming together as part of a new coalition called the CEO Council on Health and Innovation, according to a statement from the group.

"America's business community has always been an effective driver of change and progress," the CEO Council said in a report. "We are strongly committed to taking action to improve the health and wellness of the nation as a whole, and to promote higher quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care."

They're trying to drive other employers to implement and track wellness programs that focus on helping consumers eat better, exercise more, stop smoking and improve their emotional and behavioral health. The CEO Council also wants companies to collaborate on community-based programs and support greater transparency and value-based payment and delivery models.

The report explained specific steps each member company is taking to boost employee wellness. Aetna, for example, is working with providers to offer clinical and IT infrastructure for its accountable care arrangements. And Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are working to recalibrate hospital payment to align with quality and efficiency and support accountable care.

Several CEOs on the council during a press conference on Tuesday described their company's wellness programs and boasted success they've achieved in lowering costs for their employees and the company, reported Reuters. However, research doesn't always prove that wellness programs are effective, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the CEO Council's statement and report
- read the Reuters article