There’s no better time than the present to invest in one’s health. But everyone shouldn’t have to go at it alone. Employers and their health benefit managers who make decisions about the choice of health care plans are optimally positioned to improve both the health of their employees and their company’s bottom line.
Investing in Preventive Care
Some companies are already making that investment through corporate wellness programs, which usually emphasize preventing illness. For example, many offer free programs that encourage walking or quitting smoking, or they might reimburse employees’ for the cost of a gym membership. Nowhere is this preventive approach more relevant than in the fight against heart disease. By 2035, 45% of Americans are projected to have some form of cardiovascular disease.
It accounts for one out of every three deaths in America. Yet 80% of cardiovascular disease could be prevented by not smoking, eating a nutritious diet and being physically active.
These lifestyle changes are at the core of most corporate wellness programs – programs that generate solid financial returns. Every $1 invested in wellness programs yields $3.27 in medical cost savings. It also yields $2.73 in savings from decreased absenteeism and increased productivity.
But preventive care extends beyond office-sponsored programs.
Many patients went without annual wellness exams during the pandemic. Employers shouldn’t let another year pass without encouraging their employees to reschedule well check-ups and resume routine lab work. These steps could help them stay on top of potentially deadly risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Offering Comprehensive Health Insurance
Having access to appropriate care and prescribed medications at an affordable price is also important.
When selecting which health insurance plan to offer employees, companies should opt for plans that promote access as opposed to those that impose barriers. Ideal plans would not:
- Exclude new medications. Access to breakthrough medications promotes wellness and allows employees to be well and present at work – instead of sick and absent.
- Have excessive prior authorization protocols. Too many onerous forms can delay or prevent access to necessary diagnostics and treatments.
- Use co-pay accumulator adjustment programs. Insurers use these programs to keep patients’ co-pay coupons from counting toward their annual deductible, which can lower patients’ total out-of-pocket costs.
As America turns the corner on COVID-19, more employees are returning to work. It’s an opportune time for employers to invest in a healthier, more resilient and more productive workforce.