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Small Business Health Insurance: Health Costs And Wellness Programs

Small Business Health Insurance Kansas CityThe March 2011 Thomas Reuters Workforce Wellness Index reported how the lifestyle and habits of small business employees affected the employing company’s health care costs. The study found that the employers spent 670 dollars on small business health insurance premiums a year per employee.

The same Reuters study followed American workers collective well-being and fitness while they were using company-sponsored medical care. The five factors used were: high blood glucose levels, alcohol usage, tobacco consumption, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Less than optimal heath costs were also calculated.

The index saw a decline from the years 2005 to 2009; 84.4 percent is the newest number, which is down 2 percent. The ideal physical state is 100 percent. Within a specific group of people in the population, the goal is possible if unhealthy habits other medical care related costs are reduced. The lower the state of physical well-being, the higher the expenditures for employer-provided healthcare.

14 percent of the privately-insured working class medical care costs are caused by the five risk factors mentioned previously. High blood glucose levels and a high body mass index, BMI, account for 550 of 700 dollars spent on unhealthy behaviors. A report done at Duke University shows a relationship between workers’ compensation claims and that same workers BMI; which uses height and weight to determine one’s body fat. The study concluded that a person on the high end of BMI is 51,000 dollars; that is 680 percent more than the average-weighted person.

Reduction in high risk health behavior would be beneficial for companies
, according to the report. Employers should try to provide training or incentives to achieve maximum compliance. Identifying problem areas would consist of comparing an employer’s beneficiaries against the US norms.

Employee wellness programs

Statistics from the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, stated that employee behavior away from work accounted for a majority of productivity loss and medical care costs. Wellness programs designed to increase employers financial bottom line and help employees with overall great personal fitness as well as discourage counterproductive behaviors. Other wellness initiative studies show that for every 3 dollars saved from medical care spending, came from spending a dollar on wellness programming.

Only an average of 5 percent of employed people actually participate in their company’s wellness programs. Participation is often based on incentives offered to be involved in the plan.

The following statistics come from a 2011 survey conducted by Workforce Options:

*To better their own personal well-being, 76 percent of those polled felt it was necessary for their companies to provide incentives into joining the wellness plan to gain participation.

*Enrolling into an employers wellness plan, if offered perks to better or improve their physical condition, was acceptable by 73 percent of those polled.

*On-site screening, fitness programs and wellness coaching was offered to only 36 percent of those who were polled by their current employers.

Offering rewards to employees for them to pursue healthier lifestyles is a new ploy that companies are seeking as an investment. With rising absenteeism, workers compensation claims and health care premiums, it may be a necessary gamble.

Fidelity did a wellness study on the amount of money spent per employee, per year, for the health conscience program. In 2009, it was 260 dollars and rose to 430 dollars by 2010.

There is another issue to tackle. Incentive-based wellness program participation increased; however, small business employers have to find a way to encourage participation in individual health consciousness without offering perks to keep insurance costs down.

Eliminate the burden of handling employee benefits and compliance.