5 Ways To Reduce Your Health Care Costs

The two main component of a health insurance plan are the premium and costs you pay for health care via your co-pay, co-insurance and deductible. The more you agree to pay for your health care, the less your monthly premium will be. Insurance companies know that when people have a financial stake in their own health care bills they tend to be more judicious in their use of medical services. Agreeing to pay a higher deductible, or rate of co-insurance, will result in lower monthly premiums. Sometimes these reductions can be quite significant and if saved will cover most if not all of the cost of the higher deductible.

This approach is less effective for people who use a lot of health care services every year, racking up large bills. However, for people who are generally health and don’t use a lot of health care, they can realize dramatic savings using a high deductible health plan. Plans with high premiums are guaranteed to cost you a lot of money even if you don’t go to the doctor. Plans with high deductibles will only cost you a lot if you actually use medical services.

There is good news for employers, however. These leading causes of illness are largely preventable. A 2007 study of more than 200,000 employees, conducted by the University of Michigan, determined that 61% of employees have two or less health risks, 28% have a moderate risk (three to four risk factors) and only 11% have an elevated risk (five or more health risk factors). The study determined that reducing health risk factors could save an employer US$354 per employee, per year, for an organization of 1,973 employees 冠狀動脈介入治療術. These are savings that can add up quickly.

High performance companies: health and wellness leaders
Businesses today are left with no choice but to create a healthy workplace culture if they want employees to perform to their best potential. High performance companies such as SAS, Wegmans Food Markets and Google have understood the profound connection between employee health, productivity and insurance costs. According to a report by the SHRM Foundation, “more than 75% of high-performing companies regularly measure health and wellness as a viable component of their overall risk management strategy.” A survey conducted by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health “found that 83% of companies have already revamped or expect to revamp their health care strategy within the next two years, up from 59% in 2009. This year, more employers (66%) plan to offer incentives for employees to complete a health risk appraisal, up from 61% in 2009. Also, 56% of employers now offer health coaches and 26% now offer on-site health centres.”

And it’s working! The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that by implementing a physical activity program, Canada Life in Toronto improved productivity and reduced turnover and insurance costs while achieving a return on investment (ROI) of $6.85 per corporate dollar invested. A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that “comprehensive worksite health programs focused on lifestyle behaviour change have been shown to yield a $3 to $6 ROI for each dollar invested.” According to a report by the Medisys Health Group, out of the Top 100 Employers in Canada, 77 have a structured wellness program in place and those who track the results generally find their expectations are met or exceeded.

If you ask the managers and HR directors of these Top 100 companies about the benefits of workplace wellness programs, they will tell you benefits include decreases in insurance costs, absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover rates; increases in productivity and recruitment; and improved creativity and overall motivation of the workforce.

How to build an efficient wellness program
Corporate wellness programs should focus on changing poor health habits in order to maintain affordable benefits coverage. A successful wellness program will help employees improve their physical health, improve communication throughout the organization and improve the workplace culture.

Quebec’s Groupe de promotion pour la prévention en santé (GP2S) is an organization that has worked for a number of years to establish an ISO standard for workplace wellness. According to GP2S, there are a number of factors that will affect the success of wellness programs. Firstly, commitment must come from top management; the leaders of the company must be convinced of the value of the endeavour and must lead by example. Secondly, the program should be structured and integrated; managers need to define a comprehensive wellness strategy that is integrated to the business strategy, with a budget, timeline and thorough planning of resources. Third, the objectives of the program must be linked to the business objectives and the needs of employees, meaning that the program must be well integrated into the management system.

GP2S also emphasizes the importance of effective communication. As stated in the Harvard Business Review’s article, “The Pillars of an Effective Workplace Wellness Program”, “Wellness is not just a mission-it’s a message. How you deliver it can make all the difference. Sensitivity, creativity and media diversity are the cornerstones of a successful communications strategy.” Backing up the launch of a wellness program with a strong marketing and communication strategy prevents employee cynicism and skepticism and builds employee enthusiasm and excitement.

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