wonderful discussion hosted by co_health earlier this week brought up some interesting points related to outcomes-based incentive programs. Though many companies hoping to see a reduction in claims are moving in that direction, there are specific strategies that can maximize bottom line savings for employers.
First, it’s important to have a clearly defined wellness program. No employee is going to change lifestyle habits if the parameters of the plan are not clearly communicated and encouraged. If the program is outcomes-based, it must be designed to help prevent disease. This is a crucial component of any wellness program but is made even more pertinent when significant financial rewards or penalties are implemented.
Many companies are instituting results-focused programs, yet they lack guidance from health professionals. This is ill-advised and potentially dangerous for at-risk employees. If a morbidly obese employee becomes eligible for hundreds of dollars in insurance savings if only BMI is reduced to a healthy range, that employee might employ extremely unhealthy tactics to reach the goal wait. If companies are going to roll out results-based incentive programs like this, they need to provide a buffer period for employees to be made aware of the impending program and there is time to healthfully level the playing field.
An effective program includes:
1. Strategic Planning (direction, focus, goal of program)
2. Cultural Support (does the company make it easy and convenient to be healthy?)
3. The Program (components of wellness: screenings, HRA, behavior change intervention)
4. Engagement Methods (communication plan, incentives)
5. Measurement and Evaluation (ensure effectiveness, ROI of program)
Thanks to the industry thought leaders who brought so much to the table with this wonderful discussion of incentive program guidelines, implementation, and management.