We all know healthcare costs are at an all-time high with no great solutions in sight (sorry Obamacare). At what point do we begin using other methods that are within our own reach to reduce our out of pocket medical costs? It is my belief that we can reduce our individual costs as well as Employer costs by maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
Can getting healthier cut our healthcare costs for Employers and Individuals?
Sure! If an individual is not using their policy as often because they are no longer dependent on medications (or using fewer medications). If you are not going to the doctor as often for maintenance of health conditions or diseases then yes, you are reducing your own costs.
Depending on the size of the Employer group, the rates are affected when the employees are healthier because claims are reduced. However, regardless of the size of the group, wellness creates a better work environment. For instance- Employees may become more alert, experience less headaches, less fatigue, and get relief from allergies which results in less absenteeism and creates a more efficient workplace and therefore affects the Employer’s bottom line. Lower insurance costs and higher profit translate into higher pay!
We believe in this approach which is why we have created our own wellness resource for our clients and their employees that is tailored to each Employer group’s needs.
What is the government doing to generate wellness?
The Department of Labor (DOL) states that in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is building on existing wellness program policies to promote employer wellness programs and encourage opportunities to support healthier workplaces. The Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), DOL, and the Treasury are jointly releasing proposed rules on wellness programs to reflect the changes to existing wellness provisions made by the Affordable Care Act and to encourage appropriately designed, consumer-protective wellness programs in group health coverage.
The following are examples of wellness programs:
- Fitness center reimbursement- More insurance carriers offer reimbursement for visiting a fitness center. Currently in NY, Oxford/United will pay you and your spouse up to $600 per year for visiting a fitness center.
- Employees can be awarded for attending a monthly, no cost health education seminar, completing a health risk assessment, a smoking cessation program, and/or lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, etc.
An example of an award (as allowable by law) could be that the Employer charges you lower medical insurance premiums for your participation or completion in a wellness program.
In short, if Employers offer healthy incentives and we take control of our own health; we can reduce our out of pocket healthcare costs all around. You may benefit from an increased life expectancy, generate a more healthy outlook and attitude, and live a more energetic and productive life. If that’s ok with you, let’s start taking advantage of this today.