More employers are implementing wellness programs that, if well-designed, should provide long-term benefits for consumers and insurers alike, including reducing hospital admissions and preventing risk factors for chronic conditions.
"The hope is to reduce hospitalizations for controllable things. We're trying to keep people well for that reason, to avoid a preventable catastrophic event," Lisa Randall, clinical coordinator for community wellness services at Inland Northwest Health Services in Spokane, Wash., told The Spokesman-Review.
Such benefits are among the reasons why insurers increasingly cover wellness programs outside of the workplace. For example, an alternative weight loss center in Louisiana has seen insurers cover more of its services in recent years, the Daily Comet reported.
"More insurers are supporting wellness programs," Melissa Caro, manager for Whisper Weight Loss Center in Houma, La., told the Daily Comet. "If you have healthy employees, more well employees, then typically the payout for the insurance company is less."
But the key to fruitful wellness programs lies in the ability to tailor awards and incentives for each company's culture. "Boxed feel-good programs are not strategic," Kathy Worden, co-owner of Workwell Consultants, told the Spokesman-Review. "If you can't change the culture, if you can't engage the at-risk employee, it's for naught."
In most cases, financial incentives like paycheck rewards are the best way to engage and motivate employees. "Outcome-based incentives encourage people to know their risk and do something about it," said Worden, whose company provides health and wellness solutions to employers.