Saturday, September 13, 2008

Improving health = productivity

Want to share some of the things behind today’s high medical insurance costs – extensive and expensive medical treatments:

  • Recent research tells us 51% of those who have medical insurance are using medication to treat one or more chronic medical conditions.

  • 20% of the population is using prescriptions to treat 3 or more chronic situations.

  • These individuals are not just among the older population. One of the largest Pharmacy Benefit Manager firms tells us 48% of females between 20 and 44 have a chronic condition. Related to this is the growing problem of obesity among younger people. This issue has various effects on their health which requires treatment.

In thinking about the above points one reaction is - it’s great they are receiving treatment to deal with these conditions since medications are a better approach vs invasive procedures such as surgery. However, as our population gets older the number of us receiving treatment will go up! !

Bringing these national numbers down to our neck of the woods one health insurance company found over 70% of their medical treatment costs are coming from conditions connected to an individuals lifestyle. Wow - what does that tell us! !

What can be done about rapidly growing medical treatment expenses such as these?

  • Implementing a consumer choice medical insurance plan such as a health savings account is one step.

  • A very effective approach for employers, willing to make a long term commitment, involves starting an education program stressing the value to employees of taking steps to improve their health. It involves various steps to follow up the education including testing, analysis, and feedback and coaching on ways to improve. Incentives are used to encourage participation. Hopefully it will soon be available to the smallest of employers.

BTW - Just offering discounts, such as to area fitness programs, will not be effective. Employees who are currently active may take advantage. Those who have health risks and need to get involved, will not. Education and incentives are important steps.

Note: Efforts are underway in Eastern Connecticut to bring an employee wellness program to the many small employers in our area.

Bottom line – when employees feel better they are more productive.


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