Friday, March 9, 2018

Benefit Insights: 4 Reasons You Need to Focus On Healthier Populations in 2018

Benefit Insights blogs are written to help the modern Employee Benefits Adviser navigate the world of benefits and wellness. #healthinsurance #employeebenefitsadviser

As the benefits landscape continues to evolve with narrower networks, higher deductibles and increasing pharma-costs there is one constant that will put companies in a stronger position to slow their potential pace of change – healthier populations. Whether it is avoiding medical visits altogether, negotiating with carriers or reducing the need for drugs, a healthier employee base will put your clients in a more proactive position when it comes to managing future benefit programs. Here are four reasons why working towards a healthier population truly matters in 2018.

1. Healthy Populations Provide a Solution Beyond Cost Shifting 

Over the past 30 years healthcare costs have continued to rise and cost management strategies are now giving way to cost shifting measures through plan design. For instance, Wells Fargo Insurance recently noted in its annual Employee Benefits Trends Study that 52% of employers will be adding a high deductible option in the upcoming year. However, there is a natural limit to the level of cost shifting. Regardless of where your clients are on the consumerism spectrum, it is never too early to introduce a focus on population health.

Proactively introducing a program that rewards healthy behaviors helps employees potentially avoid claims and earn funds to cover necessary medical costs, while helping employers tackle one of the underlying causes of rising costs. 

2. Healthy Populations Compliment Self-Funding 

Self-funding is a strategy that many companies are turning to in the face of ever increasing healthcare premiums. With self-funding making the employer directly responsible for paying employee claims, the advantages of controlling population health will have an impact on company profitability and competitiveness. 

3. Healthy Populations Protect Against Future Health Care Costs 

Based on the research of wellness experts like Dr. Dee Edington, Founder And CEO of Edington Associates, (formerly the Director of the Health Management Research Center at the University of Michigan) healthcare costs have been shown to directly follow healthcare risks. In addition, his research has also shown that the majority of future year’s high-risk claims are currently unidentified. So, if most of the high cost employees for future years are currently medium or low risk, then changing their behavior is the key insurance policy necessary to protect against future high healthcare costs.

source: The Alliance Org 

4. Healthy Populations Improve Company Performance 

There have been a number of recent studies that have focused on the ultimate wellness ROI for companies – top line performance. One such study was done by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study compared companies who had an outstanding workplace health promotion program to the average performance of companies comprising the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index. During the 14-year comparison, the 26 companies with the award winning programs stock value appreciated by 325% compared to the market average appreciation of 105%.

This study highlights the correlation between well managed wellness programs and company profitability. It would make sense that where wellness programs are actually impacting individual health risks, employees would be happier, more productive and make better team members.

For most companies their number one asset is their people – are your clients prioritizing accordingly?

Author Bio:
Dave Hoinville is Director of Business Development at Motion Connected. He has 25+ years of experience focused on population health management, including roles as program director, general manager, EVP sales and business development.

Originally posted March 2016, updated for freshness, March 2018

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