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Businesses are using employee wellness to address rising healthcare costs

The unsustainable costs associated with healthcare have been part of an ongoing conversation in our country for the past decade or so. Although the discussion about our country’s healthcare has been well documented and debated it feels that little progress has been made. The U.S. spends $2.8 trillion on healthcare annually – more than any other country – yet rank 37th in world health systems, according to the World Health Organization. Further, as Dr. Nick Baird of U.S. Healthiest states, “unhealthy behaviors drive 70% of preventable healthcare spending.” As healthcare costs rise at alarming rates, individuals and the businesses that provide their health insurance are feeling the pain, for lack of a better term.  How do we as a nation address the unhealthy behaviors and the decisions behind those behaviors contributing to unsustainable costs?

This is where organizations such as U.S. Healthiest come into play. U.S. healthiest is a non-profit, public-private partnership formed to address these market pressures by recognizing the value of healthy employees through workplace engagement and well-being. U.S. Healthiest has created an accreditation system –comparable to LEED accreditation for green buildings – to address worksite health and wellness. The accreditation system uses standardized scores and benchmarking to encourage businesses to embrace continuous workplace health improvement. When businesses commit to their employees’ health through wellness programs, they begin to see an increase in productivity and work ethic, ultimately translating into increased revenue. A focus on employee wellness also leads to lower healthcare costs for the company. The incentives for businesses to encourage their employees’ health are clear. So far, companies such as Target, Intel, and ING have all signed up for the accreditation process.

U.S. Healthiest and organizations like U.S. Healthiest are hoping to change individual employee’s behaviors by leveraging business incentives and in turn, taking our nation’s healthcare problem head-on. So far, the numbers don’t lie:

“A 2010 analysis of 36 studies that looked at corporate wellness programs suggested they can be effective. Researchers calculated that employers saved $6 for every $1 spent: $3.27 saved in medical costs and an additional $2.73 gained due to reduced absenteeism. An earlier analysis had found that such programs reduced sick leave, health plan costs, worker compensation and disability costs by about 25%.” (see link below)

Whether it’s a massive corporation such as Target or a local small business, companies benefit from investing in employee wellness, and in turn, hopefully our country will benefit as well.

An important element of adhering to workplace health improvement and U.S. Healthiest’s accreditation process is measuring employee’s health, most commonly through an HA (health assessment). AutoData’s software simplifies the process of measuring employee wellness with its survey creation software. By offering a combination of paper and web surveys, using our software will increase a company’s response rates and employee engagement. AutoData embraces the opportunity to assist companies in improving their top and bottom lines, but most importantly, the opportunity to help businesses improve our nation’s healthcare.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/sep/15/opinion/la-oe-parikh-employee-wellness-programs-20130912