Wellness Plans: Not Always in a Name

It’s true. I don’t want to sell you one. I could, but I would rather not. Aside from the mixed reports on value, there are other things you can do that create a larger and more meaningful impact on your people than some gimmicky overpriced wellness plan. True, the cute logo and slogans might make you feel good on the inside, but wouldn’t you feel better if you knew you actually helped someone? Let me explain…

According to a 2018 report recently released by Sun Life, the highest cost medical claim conditions are malignant neoplasm (cancer), leukemia, lymphoma, and/or multiple myeloma (cancers), and chronic/end-stage renal disease (kidneys). These are huge life altering issues. A cute little portion plate, a blood pressure check, and a flu shot aren’t going to make a meaningful impact on these types of events.

If you are lucky enough to not have any of these claims for your group, you are still seeing claims that won’t be impacted by the boxed wellness plan. No fancy wellness plan will make the kind of impact on your claims or your most valuable resources, your employees, you need it to make – no matter how cute the graphics are.

Then what will? A good place to start is to help your employees and their families get better access to care and encouraging them to actually get care when they need it. There is a shortage of providers here in the great Pacific Northwest. Your people are facing long waiting lists to get in with a primary care provider – that is…if the provider is even accepting new patients. Large numbers of employees are turning to urgent care, or worse, the emergency room, when they need even routine care. Not only are they not getting the quality of care they need, they aren’t getting ongoing support or encouragement to live a healthier life. This not only negatively impacts your claims, it impacts every aspect of their health and life.

Your employees need to establish a relationship with a primary care provider, who is…

• Someone they can trust
• Someone they can go to for their annual preventive care visit
• Someone who will ask about family history and risk factors
• Someone who will work with them to ensure they are taking medications properly and that there aren’t negative interactions between those medications

They need a person they can see when they aren’t feeling well. Someone who…

• Will support them and can tell them if their symptoms are normal or are concerning
• Can help them make incremental changes in their life for the better

A typical wellness plan doesn’t do any of that.

Yes, most wellness plans will get you a biometric screening and maybe a 10-minute appointment with a nurse who will tell the person what their results are and what to be concerned about. Yes, that nurse will refer them to see their regular doctor for follow-up. What then? What if they don’t have someone with whom to follow-up? Then what? Who will help them make the necessary changes? Who will they reach out to when they have bronchitis and are concerned it might turn to pneumonia?

Those types of plans miss the human element. They miss the importance of establishing a relationship with a provider they can trust and go back to for years. This is a critical piece to your wellness plan and to the wellness and health of all of your employees and their families.

No, I don’t want to sell you a wellness plan. However, I will happily help you create a wellness culture where you can help your employees get better access to providers. I will shout from the rooftop the importance of establishing a relationship with a provider and going for annual preventive care visits.

Ready to take it a step further? Let’s talk about quality of care and how to help employees save money, time, and heartache by shopping for quality care. Let’s move your culture to having more value in what is offered and helping people to use it better. Together we can create a plan and a culture where you encourage behaviors that make a difference in the lives of your people and their families.

Next Steps:  Encourage your employees to establish a relationship with a primary care provider and go for their annual preventive care visit.

DISCLAIMER: The comments and materials contained herein are intended to be for informational purposes only. This is not legal advice and is not intended to create or constitute a lawyer-client relationship. Before acting on the basis of any of this information or material, you are advised to consult your employment attorney for legal advice. Any views or opinions presented in this email are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company or agency. Neither Brown & Brown Insurance nor EHL Insurance accepts any liability for any damages or other liability arising out of this communication or the reliance upon any of the information provided within.

AUTHOR:  Heather Torres
Senior Employee Benefits Advisor

(360) 779-4448 ext. 8170

Heather is a Sr. Employee Benefits Advisor, the promise keeper and main contact for the vast majority of our employee benefit clients. She has a talent for management, and a drive and passion for children. Heather is a wife and mother and loves being outdoors with her family.

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