Wellness Programs in the Workplace

2930 Words 12 Pages
Introduction
Over the last several decades, an epidemic of “lifestyle diseases” has developed in the United States. In response, employers, in an attempt to increase productivity and decrease health insurance costs, have created wellness programs to combat the growing trend of unhealthy living habits. This paper will discuss the different components of a wellness program, explore a typical employer’s overall wellness strategy, and analyze incentives and trends in common wellness programs in America.
The frequency of unhealthy lifestyle choices such as inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use and alcohol consumption are the driving factors of today’s chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pulmonary conditions. These
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Studies in 2010 found that indirect costs (e.g., days missed at work) were approximately four times higher for individuals with chronic disease than for those without.
Today, wellness programs focus on increased support for the chronic illnesses in the working-age population, as employers are concerned with their out of pocket expenses and the effects of employer-sponsored health coverage. In a recent survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), 67 percent of employers identified “employees’ poor health habits” as one of their top three challenges to maintaining affordable health coverage.
To help offset the increasing health care costs that our society faces today, employers are focusing more on adopting good health practices through promotion and disease prevention strategies, often referred to as workplace wellness program. Disease prevention programs have two stages of prevention. The first is to prevent the onset of diseases or to diagnose, where the focus is on addressing the health-related behaviors and risk factor such as encouraging people to consume a healthier diet. The second stage is to treat diseases at an early stage before complications occur. This translates to promoting medication adherence for patients with asthma and other diseases