About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Employee Wellness Programs Starting to Include Spouses

As wellness professionals, we (quite naturally) spend most of our time focusing on the health and well-being of employees. But as a recent Wall Street Journal article points out, it's helpful to extend the benefits of wellness programs to spouses and domestic partners. "Nearly half of U.S. employers include spouses in wellness programs, up from roughly 10% five years ago," according to one health expert.

The Journal article follows the efforts of Syngenta, a Swiss company with a strong presence in the U.S. After discovering that spouses' medical claims were higher than employees' (by almost 30%!), they started encouraging spouses to participate in biometric screenings and health risk assessments.

Serious health conditions have been uncovered through the screenings, and some employees have lost weight and made lifestyle changes as a result of the information they received. According to Syngenta, their wellness program has helped keep the cost of health care inflation below the national average.

Given that millions of people depend on their spouses for health coverage, it makes sense to include spouses and partners in wellness programs. After all, as we've argued many times, people are more likely to make lasting changes if they have support--both at home and at work.

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