Friday, September 23, 2016

Work-Site & Corporate Wellness Distribution and Impact

In the past, the focus of wellness programs has been on managing “sick” employees.  We all know being sick costs money. So if you could make the sickness go away then less money would be spent on health care right?   

Here’s the big idea, “manage the disease” of those employees who are already sick and then hope that they will become healthy again. This type of thinking suggests once the sick became healthy, the company would realize their return on investment (ROI).  This seems like a logical solution.  However, history has demonstrated this may be logical, but is a bad idea.  Here’s what happens. The people who are already sick stayed sick, the healthy people become sick, and the company would not realize their ROI for three or more years down the road, if ever. 

To save money on health care costs the focus needs to be on keeping every employee healthy. That way the sick get better and the healthy stay healthy.

The long and the short of it is …
it costs less money to focus on wellness and everyone knows it.

Refer to chart below for distribution of savings demonstrated by wellness. It costs less money to provide wellness to all employees combined then provide disease and medical management to a few.

Demonstrated Savings of a Wellness Program

ROI / person
$3 - $24
$7 - $10
10 – 30%
$7 -$10
10 – 15%
$2 - $3
5 -7%

In 2011, Insurance Associated conducted a study that found a small percentage of employees (20%) had developed the indicators of chronic disease and identified this group as “high risk”. The healthy or “low risk” were the remaining group (80%). When the focus is on the 20%, the 80% will begin to shift from low risk to the high risk population. 

Why is that?  “Chronic” means to happen over time. Many medical experts agree heart disease, cancer and the like are a 10- year process. This means it’s 10 years from the beginning of the disease until the first symptom.  In the case of heartdisease, it may begin with the first french fry (cholesterol build up) not the chest pain (heart attack). As you can imagine, it’s infinitely more costly and complicated to make someone unhealthy who is in the throes of chronic disease than it is someone who is in the early stages or pre-chronic disease state.

The new trend in wellness programming is to focus on the entire population. Those healthy, high risk, and chronic disease groups. In this way wellness programming reduces and sometimes freezes health care spending on medications, doctor visits, emergency room, and hospital admissions.  

How?  By early detection and identifying disease risk factors.  Such as pre-high blood pressure and pre-diabetes (high blood sugar).  When blood pressure and blood sugar are on the rise, both can be reduced with healthy lifestyle measures such as making healthy food choices and increased physical activity.

Your partner in health, 

Wellness Consultant
Certified Health Coach

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