If you've done much research on the topic, you know that there is no single "European Model" for health care. Different countries tackle the coverage and cost conundrum in their own unique ways.
One common element of most foreign health care systems, of course, is that the state usually plays a major role. Coverage is universal, or very close to it.
So where does this leave corporate wellness programs?
In the United States, skyrocketing costs have sparked an tremendous interest in wellness. But it turns out that some of the same concerns that U.S. employers grapple with--obesity, stress, and rising costs--are also major concerns in Europe. As a result, multinational companies operating in Europe are joining the American trend toward employee wellness.
At her Health Populi blog, the health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kohn explains that many multinationals offer their employees private, supplemental insurance plans--and that the cost of these plans is increasing rapidly. According to a recent Towers Watson survey, controlling the cost of employee health programs is the number one priority of multinationals. Addressing emerging health risks and promoting employee health and wellness came in second and third, respectively.
For anyone in the business of corporate wellness, this is a trend worth noting. I've always argued that moving toward universal coverage in the U.S. would not diminish the need for employee wellness programs. Quite the opposite! Here we see that even in countries with universal health coverage, employers still recognize the value of promoting health and wellness.
Several of our multinational clients are currently working to extend their wellness offerings, and we're excited about building programs for their locations in Europe this year. Our clients are ahead of the curve, as usual!
P.S.: If you missed our free webinar, "Seven Strategies for Building a High-Engagement Wellness Program," don't worry. The slides and audio will be available for download next week, and I'll post the link as soon as I have it.