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Employers to workers: ‘Wellness or else!’

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As U.S. companies increasingly financially punish their employees  who decline to join “wellness” programs, we wonder if in the brave new world of fewer inpatient and ever larger outpatient services, that h0spitals, as community health centers, can play a big part in developing and maintaining ”wellness” programs, in return for fees from employers.

This might be a growth area.

The Affordable Care Act  raised the financial incentives that employers can offer workers for participating in workplace wellness programs and achieving measureable results. People talk about the Nanny State but this is also about the Nanny Company seeking to cuts its insurance costs.

“Wellness-or-else is the trend,”  workplace consultant Jon Robison of Salveo Partners told Reuters.

Reuters also noted that “Incentives typically take the form of cash payments or reductions in employee deductibles. Penalties include higher premiums and lower company contributions for out-of-pocket health costs.”

Still, as Reuters notes, “But there is almost no evidence that workplace wellness programs significantly reduce those costs. That’s why the financial penalties are so important to companies, critics and researchers say. They boost corporate profits by levying fines that outweigh any savings from wellness programs.”

“There seems little question that you can make wellness programs save money with high enough penalties that essentially shift more healthcare costs to workers,” said health policy expert Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation.



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