Employers and employees are poised to benefit from new rules governing workplace health promotion programs associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014. While most of the population is focused on the increased access to health care services, another portion of the ACA is designed to put a greater emphasis on prevention and health promotion. This is good news for employers as the new law encourages employers to adopt wellness programs for their employees.
Specifically, employers can design incentive based wellness programs that reward outcomes and participation. This specific provision could lead to financial incentives such as reduced premiums, reduced deductibles, different health plan designs or reduced co-payments for workers who are nonsmokers, at a given Body Mass Index or controlling modifiable risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose.
Research from several studies have shown a relationship between high risk factors such as weight, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol and increased spending by an employer. A study with the multi-employer HERO health risk and cost database showed increased costs associated with risk were more than two-thirds that of lower-risk participants.
Employers are poised to benefit from cost savings in their business. In a review conducted by Harvard University economists, it was determined that there was a $3.27 return for every dollar invested in effective workplace wellness programs—coupled with a $2.73 decrease in absenteeism costs.
In the end, it appears that the ACA will help employers realize decreased costs, increased productivity and an improvement in health outcomes for their employees. For more information on Employee Assistance Programs or if you need assistance determining if an employee wellness program is right for your company, please contact us, Emergency One, at 845.338.5600.