Employee Benefits: A Problem or Opportunity

In today’s economy, most employers view employee benefits as a high cost problem. Switch your thinking! It can be an opportunity. When designed properly, you can save premium dollars and give your employees incentive to stay healthy. In my opinion, wellness is paramount to turning the tide in rising health care costs. Many Americans are living “high risk” lifestyles. These “high risk” conditions are the root cause for more than half of all health care expenditures.

Obesity, Stress, Lack of Exercise, Smoking*

As employers you have the opportunity to encourage the right behavior by creating incentive plans within your company. Imagine the impact if every employee went in for routine physicals. Perhaps the employee discovers they have high cholesterol or high blood pressure and from this take action in their health habits to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Encourage your employees to get physicals by giving them time to do so. If you prevent one heart attack, you save thousands of dollars in claims and lost productivity. Compare that to the cost of one hour of your employee’s time. Reward them for taking a wellness survey with your carrier. Pay $100 toward their high deductible if they take their survey. It may help them prevent cancer or encourage them to lose weight. Ask yourself, what is the value of a healthy, active worker in your organization? If you weigh the cost against the potential gain you will likely find that your team is more productive, efficient and healthier than your competition. What you could view as a problem is really an opportunity to make change.

*From Summary Health Statistics for US Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2005; published in Vital and Health Statistics. Series 10, Number 232, December 2006, Department of Health & Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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