That wellness and outreach health insurance stuff is a lot of touchy feely baloney!

How many times have I been told that one? Who is counting?… is a frequent response.

 

Wellness programs have become an industry of their own and I would tend to agree that many of them are over designed or just ineffective, but as a concept it is sound practice and employers who ignore this tool are making a mistake.

 

Let’s look at a story from AHIP today: “Chronic hypertension may increase risk of pregnancy complications” . There is the obvious human response that nobody wants to risk damage to somebody’s child. But many business owners might respond that they provide a quality medical plan and it is the mothers responsibility to be healthy for her child’s sake.

 

So let’s look at this from a less emotional perspective. What impact might hypertension and child birth have on an employer?

 

1. The hypertension may lead to a premature birth. The march of dimes reports that an   average preemie might cost $49,000 in year one versus $4.551 for a standard full term healthy baby.

 

2. Neonatal ICU costs average $3,000 per day, again that goes to the bottom line on the medical plan.

 

3. Parents incur a host of non covered costs (eg. hospital parking, co-insurance costs, child care for the children at home) which translate to stress on the employee and time off work.

 

4. If the mother is the employee she will be making a disability claim and if the child is premature she will be looking at FMLA. Each of these cause a loss of productivity not just for the mother but her concerned associates.

 
I could list many more associated costs to one incidence of hypertension but the point here is how much smarter it is to implement an effective wellness approach that includes basic testing to determine health issues like pre-diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
This approach should also include incentives to encourage compliance and an active outreach to provide education, followup and best practice implementation.

 
In a follow up blog I will address self funding because it is the process that makes all of your best efforts on benefits actually work. Before you go screaming into the night over that term, it is not as complex as you may have thought and if you are an active HR manager looking for ways to impact profitability and a changing company culture you need to know how self funding works.

 

For more information, call Bill Weaver, Focus Benefits Group, 602-381-9900.


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