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Managing Healthcare Costs Through Wellness

Nov 01, 2005

United States businesses are increasingly turning to wellness programs to get a handle on rising healthcare costs, according to a survey released by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and the ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) Industry Committee. That’s good news for fitness pros wanting to manage or work for corporate wellness programs.

Among the 365 leading companies responding to the survey, 62% offer wellness programs to improve employee health, and another 33% have been considering such programs. Of those businesses with programs in place, 64% say that rising healthcare costs were “a major factor in our decision” and another 34% say that these costs played some role in their decision.

“Employers large and small see the potential in encouraging employees to lead healthier lifestyles by eating better, exercising more and not smoking,” said Tommy G. Thompson, the independent chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. “Wellness programs are a long-term investment in a healthier, happier and more productive workforce. That will be good for workers’ waistlines—and companies’ bottom lines.”

What programs are businesses offering? Top choices include the following:

  • health risk assessments, 61%
  • smoking cessation programs, 56%
  • on-site workout facilities, 50%
  • employee diet groups, 48%
  • subsidized gym programs, 43%
  • healthier food in company cafeterias, 48%
  • time for employees to exercise during the workday, 27%

Additionally, 47% of respondents offer employees incentives to participate in the programs. Enticements include cash payments, reduced medical copay costs, and rebates on program fees.

The bad news is, most companies report that fewer than a quarter of employees are participating in the programs.

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