Programs that encourage healthy activities and lifestyles as part of an employer’s health insurance benefits not only keep employees healthy, but also increase the company’s bottom line, says the owner of one of the nation’s largest independent employee benefits brokers.

Scott McGohan, CEO of McGohan Brabender in Dayton, says employers who are fully engaged in wellness mitigation programs have costs that are 28 percent less than other companies that don’t offer those types of programs.

By offering wellness programs as part of their health insurance benefits, McGohan says employees are more productive in their family life, community life and at work. “Under that position I’m not sure anybody can lose,” he says.

Businesses are indeed finding that offering wellness programs as part of their health benefits is valuable, says registered nurse Carolyn Jacob, the wellness coordinator for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio.

Jacob, who also has a master’s degree in health promotion, says employers who offer wellness programs find that their employees have less absenteeism, are happy and productive, and file less workers’ compensation claims. “That’s where they’re finding their value right now,” she says.

McGohan agrees that companies with wellness mitigation programs are at a lower risk for future workers compensation claims. “Their risk score for future claims, or future risk, is significantly lower as well,” he says.

Although the idea of offering wellness programs as part of a health benefits package is not new, the activities and programs have evolved, Jacob says. “Employees and employers love events that bring on camaraderie, healthy competition, like a walking program,” she says. “That’s one of our hottest areas right now is a walking program.”

Other popular programs include food demonstrations, biometric testing, flu shots and mammograms, Jacob says. “People like to know every year that those events will be available,” she says.

Another trend for wellness programs is encouraging annual physical examinations, Jacob says. “That’s becoming a real hot area right now,” she says.

Some employers encourage their employees to go online and take a health assessment, Jacob says. “That helps people know where they have to go because we don’t know what we need to work on if we don’t know what our numbers are,” she says.

Many wellness programs even make seeing the doctor easier. Anthem offers a Telehealth program that allows patients to see a doctor via a laptop, desktop or tablet computer, Jacob says.

“It’s making it very convenient for folks to have a virtual visit with a physician, even at work, so they don’t have to take time off work or take their children out of school,” she says.

Business owners should realize that they have employees with disease in their workforce whether they offer health insurance benefits or not, McGohan says. “And it’s costing the organization money and it’s costing issues in regard to productivity,” he says.

Jacob says she likes to discuss with employers how to be strategic and align the health and wellness programs with their business model.

“Put a mission statement and vision statement together that says this is who we are and this is what we believe in and healthy employees are part of that equation,” Jacob says. “I always say you’ve got to keep the fun factor going here otherwise people won’t be interested,” she says.

 



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