Wellness Plans. Are They Enough?
Healthcare costs are on the rise and insurance companies are struggling to keep up with them, but instead of taking a back seat to the issue, companies and organizations have taken a more proactive approach to the topic of healthcare and health insurance.
The theory is very simple. Keep people healthy, and it will reduce sickness. Reduced sickness will mean less hospital and doctor visits. Less hospital and doctor visits mean, potentially, lower healthcare costs. Sounds pretty good on paper, right?
But how does it really work in practice?
Many employers are already singing the praises of the employee wellness programs that supplement the healthcare benefits they already get. Employees have stopped smoking (which means less heart disease) started exercising regularly, and learned to eat better. Studies have proven such programs to decrease sick days and chronic disease and increase productivity and life expectancy. Whether or not it will have a lasting effect on the global cost of healthcare has yet to be seen, but some employees have already begun to reap the individual benefits.
The programs, though, are not without their opponents.
First, there’s a certain amount of disclosure that one must submit to before signing onto one of these programs, which many believe could lead to serious privacy concerns. Second, there is a recurring fear that encouraging good health to lower healthcare costs could open the door for health discrimination in jobs and benefits, though no evidence exists to support that theory… …yet. Though current results are positive, long-term results are still very inconclusive.
This hasn’t stopped established tech giants like Apple and startups like Fitbit from capitalizing on the trend of health tracking and monitoring. Some analysts have speculated that such technological advancements could change the face of healthcare forever. Others say that it’s just a passing fad. Regardless of where this technology is headed, it at least has people talking about their health and fitness in new, innovative ways.
Other organizations are riding on the idea that rising healthcare costs is not just a health insurance problem, but a socio-economic problem as well. The idea is that patients would make better health choices given the means and capital to do so. But again, this still falls to the mercy of data. There is no conclusive evidence that being able to simply afford better meals and activities will lead to an increase in healthy lifestyle and the process of determining prime candidates can be a statistical and logistical nightmare. The lack of a solid ROI has turned away many a potential investor.
Today is an exciting time for the world of healthcare. Advancements in the field of medicine are making preventative measures more of a reality than they have every been before. However, will they be enough to turn the tide of healthcare costs and the price of insurance?
Only time will tell.
First Baldwin Insurance