New Wellness Model Offers Hope to Mid-Sized Employers Looking to Control Health Costs
NEW YORK, Aug. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As co-founder of Ambrose Employer Group, a leading provider of HR administration solutions, Greg Slamowitz is very familiar with the healthcare challenges faced by mid-sized companies. His observations match the conclusion of a recent ADP Research Institute report: More than 90% of mid-sized companies cite controlling healthcare costs as a priority that impacts their competitiveness. Recognizing their pressing need for a comprehensive and affordable solution, Greg founded WellnessRebates™, an advisor to organizations looking to increase employee engagement and lower health costs through outcome-based wellness programs.
"Most of today's mid-sized employers offer wellness programs under what we call the Wellness 1.0 model: piecemeal, 'check the box' initiatives that ignore outcomes and use uncoordinated tactics, such as gym reimbursements, that only reach the healthy," said Slamowitz. "We're advocating a new model, Wellness 2.0, which has been successfully implemented by many forward-thinking, large companies. These programs are comprehensive, strategically planned, offer significant incentives tied to results, and are delivered through a supportive culture of health. There's no reason why more companies shouldn't adopt this model and see the same results."
Numerous studies from groups like the Wellness Council of America and National Business Group on Health (NBGH), show that many large employers have had documented, measurable success with comprehensive, well-designed programs. An independent review of the worksite health initiative at Johnson & Johnson credited their program with slower growth in health spending, reductions in employee health risks, and a strong return on investment. Large companies with comprehensive wellness programs also report that healthy employees positively impact business performance. According to a Towers Watson & NBGH study, companies with the most effective health and productivity programs experience 11% higher revenue per employee and 28% higher shareholder returns.
However small and mid-size employers have been slower in adopting comprehensive wellness initiatives. For example, although studies show a strong link between greater use of incentives and program participation, according to Business Insurance Magazine, incentive values were lower among midmarket employers, with only 45% offering rewards valued at $500 or more. According to a 2012 Employee Health Management Best Practice Scorecard, published by the benefits consulting firm Mercer and the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), large employers "tend to have higher overall scores on the Scorecard, indicating more comprehensive [health management] programs."
Slamowitz believes that the biggest hurdles faced by small to mid-sized businesses are cost and resources. "They struggle to afford the latest disease management and lifestyle interventions, such as personalized coaching and online health platforms, which are often associated with successful programs. Moreover, the burden of planning and running the program is usually placed on overworked HR staff that, though well intentioned, often lacks the time or expertise to manage the complex challenge of employee health management."
WellnessRebates™ addresses these resource barriers by assigning a full-service wellness specialist to support busy HR teams in designing and implementing their wellness program, and by offering two cost-neutral solutions: (1) as a health insurance broker, the company offers its wellness services to all clients, funded by the commission stream; and (2) encouraging use of outcome-based incentives, which can be structured so that the program is self-funding.
Encouraged by the Affordable Care Act, outcome-based incentives allow employers to link employee premium contributions to their achieving or making progress towards specified behaviors or biometric targets, such as smoking cessation or lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Those employees who fail to address their risk factors may contribute more towards health coverage, offsetting the costs of providing wellness benefits to the population. Under the ACA, such premium differentials can be valued up to 30% of the cost of an individual health plan, or 50% in the case of tobacco cessation. "With the cost of an average health plan exceeding $10,000, that's a significant incentive - and source of funding - for a comprehensive wellness initiative," said Slamowitz.
WellnessRebates™ was founded with the belief that if America is going to solve its health crisis, the successful "Wellness 2.0" model must spread more broadly to employers of all sizes. By funding a comprehensive program through the pre-existing revenue stream created by brokerage commissions or the cost shifting allowed by the ACA, smaller employers and their workers can reap benefits once reserved to only well-funded, large employers.
WellnessRebates™ delivers highly customized wellness programs to mid-market organizations seeking the benefits of increased employee productivity and reduced healthcare costs through outcome-based incentives. The company was founded by Greg Slamowitz, previously the Co-CEO of Ambrose, one of the most successful Professional Employment Organizations in the United States, recently acquired by Trinet. For more information, visit www.wellnessrebates.com or call 888-208-2788.
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