As a nation, we currently waste hundreds of billions of dollars treating illness after the fact, rather than preventing costly chronic conditions in the first place. To that end, we're delighted that the new law contains a number of powerful wellness provisions.
Starting in 2011:
- Small employers will be able to receive federal grants to start wellness programs. The grants will be available for up to five years.
- A new National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council will be formed to develop a national health improvement strategy.
- Chain restaurants and vending machines that sell food must disclose nutritional information.
Starting in 2014:
- Employers will be able to offer employees who participate in wellness programs up to a 50% discount on the cost of insurance coverage.
- A 10-state pilot program will allow participating states test the efficacy of offering similar rewards in the individual insurance market.
The health reform bill is controversial--this much we know. Some of its provisions will likely be controversial for years to come. But I hope we can all agree that investing in prevention and wellness makes sense. Employee wellness programs have helped businesses cut costs and improve the well-being of their employees, so why not apply what we've learned to the nation at large?
Do you agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.