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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wellness: It's the Law

It’s becoming increasingly common for state legislatures to mandate that insurers [or companies] provide wellness programs—as a way to control healthcare costs statewide.

It's good to see governments recognize the value of wellness programs in keeping down health care costs. Requiring insurers to have a wellness program really helps the public understand the value.

According to an article in the Nashua Telegraph, the New Hampshire legislature has passed a bill requiring insurers to have wellness programs.

While the bill doesn’t define what a wellness program is, it does set targets for savings: 17 to 19 percent. The requirements for a what constitutes a "wellness program" will be worked out by an advisory board.

According to the article, Rhode Island passed a similar law that went into effect last year and produced savings of 15 percent.

As these kind of public efforts are revealing, the devil is in the details. What exactly is a wellness program? An annual health fair? Obligatory disease management? Smoking cessation programs? Health risk assessments? All of the above? None of the above?

Here’s an entry I wrote in January about Maryland’s attempt to define what a “wellness program” is under its new law.

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