As an employer, you may be familiar with your insurance carriers wellness program, or at least have an idea about one or two of the programs that they offer. As an MBL client, you’ll notice that your open enrollment booklets and benefits guides include basic information around different carrier-sponsored resources and how one can access them. But often times, this one touch-point just isn’t enough. Once open enrollment is over, and the benefits booklets are tossed to the side, programs are quickly forgotten about. Often time, as we discussed in last weeks newsletter, employees don’t even take notice or absorb the information the first time they receive it, and unfortunately, they typically don’t know to ask about it, either because let’s face it, we don’t know what they don’t know. In this week’s newsletter, we talk about taking advantage of your carriers wellness programs, the ones already included in the plans you’re already paying for that many of your employees are subscribed to.
According to the American Heart Association, 5 lifestyle related factors could prolong life expectancy at age 50 for 12-14 years, as compared to individuals who don’t practice these behaviors: 1) never smoking, 2) maintaining a healthy weight, 3) getting regular physical activity, 4) eating a healthy diet, and 5) avoiding excess alcohol consumption. For years, public health practitioners have been building the case that the workplace is an ideal environment to support the wellbeing and health of individuals. For many organizations, budgetary restrictions pose a major barrier to investing in wellness programs but what several employers may not be aware of is that many plans offer programs to help employees address such lifestyle behaviors, and more and more carriers are increasing their wellness offerings. to keep adding value to their plans.
Carrier Wellness Programs:
Carrier wellness programs range from exercise programs with discounts to network fitness facilities, or free access to exercise apps or exercise incentives, such as reimbursements. The use of telemedicine has been growing, and the need for convenient, safe and affordable care means carriers are enhancing their partnerships for virtual care, both for regular doctor visits and behavioral health. Several plans offer lifestyle behavior support, such as weight management, medication management, smoking cessation and healthy pregnancy/baby programs, as well as discounts or coverage for acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, LASIK and health coaching, which involves setting goals, overcoming barriers, and providing the resources and motivation to be successful. Most also offer emotional wellness support & stress management resources as well as substance abuse support services. Most carriers also offer Health Risk Assessments that individuals can take to learn about where their current health habits stand, and receive recommendations for change. The carriers can provide data reporting to the group to help inform even more comprehensive offerings that you may wish to invest in.
While programs and actual offerings differ by carrier, their goal is to help your employees live educated and healthy lifestyles, allowing them to live higher quality lives, and keep more money in their pockets, and yours. The key is understanding and communicating to employees who subscribe to these plans what is available to them early and often, because believe it or not, the carrier is most likely not sending reminder emails to plan participants regarding their programs. They’ve got all the flyers and information, but it’s up to your organization to distribute them.
Health Improvement Funds:
Going a step further, on some occasions, a carrier may also include Health Improvement Funds (Wellness Funds) to support your organizations current programs, or to assist you in putting wellness programs and initiatives into place. These funds work on either a reimbursement model (reimbursement to a premium statement or check to the organization), or direct payment to vendors model. If your health plan includes a fund, you may hear from the carriers health engagement consultant to collaborate and support the creation of a strategic wellness plan, as well as MBL’s Wellness Coordinator to assist in the management and spending of this fund.
With all of this said, it’s important to ask your broker or your insurance carrier Account Manager for more details about wellness programs and resources so that your employees are the most educated that they can be on their plans and the programs available to them and their families. As an MBL Client, our In-House Wellness Coordinator can assist in identifying these programs for you. If you have any questions about your carrier’s wellness programs, reach out today!