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Insurance, Benefits & Risk Review Issue 2 2007

wellness and disease management programs

A Healthy Workforce is a Win-Win for Employers and Employees
Wellness and disease management programs should lower healthcare costs, and improve employee productivity and satisfaction. What makes a program successful?
Healthcare costs are high and getting higher, increasing at three times the rate of inflation, for the foreseeable future. As a result, employer health insurance premiums increased by 7.7% in 2006. Added to the direct cost of healthcare benefits are the financial burdens of absenteeism and lost productive time. The US Department of Labor estimates that absenteeism costs American business between $30 40 billion each year. What do both of these statistics have in common? As it turns out, chronic medical conditions, often caused by human behavior, contribute significantly to absenteeism and rising healthcare costs. In fact, many employers have determined that preventing chronic conditions in employees, and keeping chronic conditions from getting worse, should have a positive impact on their businesses by reducing both absenteeism and plan costs. Such wellness programs can also improve worker retention, since the quality of benefit packages is known to directly affect the career decisions of employees and potential hires. A recent industry study conducted by Willis confirms that wellness and disease management programs are becoming a big part of benefit plan strategies. A third of the companies surveyed have launched them, while another third are planning to. These plans may include components that measure risk, manage disease, provide on-sight medical screenings or promote healthy lifestyles. embrace this new approach to trigger lifestyle changes and healthier behaviors among your employees. 2:  Communicate to employees regularly and frequently. Employees must understand potential risk factors and the tools and resources that will help them, so theyre committed to healthier behaviors and stay focused on the value of good health. 3:  Provide incentives to employees to take an active role in maintaining healthy behaviors. Rewards and incentivessuch as a reduction in employee benefit contributions tied to healthy behaviorsare essential to maintain employee enthusiasm and lower healthcare claims.

Five Musts for Success With Wellness and Disease Management Programs
1:  Make sure senior management is fully committed. Only with senior managements understanding and enthusiastic buy-in can your company

Insurance, Benefits & Risk Review Issue 2 2007 4:  Develop a strong partnership with a quality vendor of health improvement and management programs. These programs are comprehensive, multifaceted and ongoing. They cant be done without a viable vendor who has the know-how to succeed. 5: D  evelop clear program evaluation systems with your vendor. Like any process, wellness programs must be evaluated and assessed in order to chart employee progress and related return on investment, and to make adjustments if necessary.

Did You Know?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that cases of chronic conditions can be attributed to:

50% behavior, lifestyle 20% genetics 20% environment 10% access to care

Quick Facts
 According to the Department of Health and Human Services, chronic diseases cause 7 out of 10 deaths each year. The underlying causes are risk factors that can be successfully modified years before they ultimately contribute to illness or death.  74% of private healthcare spending is attributable to the 45% of privately insured individuals who suffer from one or more chronic conditions.1  25-40% of all patients in U.S. general hospital beds (not in maternity or intensive care) are being treated for complications of alcohol-related problems. Annual health care expenditures for alcohol-related problems amount to $22.5 billion. The total cost of alcohol problems is $175.9 billion a year.2
1 Partnership for Solutions, Johns Hopkins University, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation 2

Other sources for this issue: Willis Wellness and Disease Management Survey, November 2006 The National Coalition on Healthcare

For more information: Please contact your local Willis representative or call 1-866-406-0608, email, or visit
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Copyright 2007 Willis