You might ask what “strategic healthcare planning for employers” even means? Next to salaries, benefits are often one of the highest costs to an employer. An employer can simply toss the dice and see what the costs add up to, or they can think strategically about their healthcare costs, the same as if they were deciding whether or not to open or close a manufacturing facility, to adopt a product line, or to move their headquarters. By strategically planning efforts to create a healthier, happier workforce with less stress and better diet, exercise and lifestyles, an employer can see huge returns over time.
If your health benefits cost $20 million per year, then saving just 1% per year due to strategic health planning can cut your costs over a ten year period by $19.4 million. (This assumes you drop a 10% annual increase to a 9% annual increase average.) Your costs at the end of ten years at ten percent will be $51.9 million per year at 10$ growth, but shaving just 1% off that can change your ten year budget to just $47.3 million. The benefits literally accrue more as time goes on.
So how can you do this? You can’t get your whole workforce to eat right, exercise and be healthy all at once. It is also illegal to only hire healthy or younger workers. The way to do it is baby steps. Early detection of diabetes, prostate cancer and breast cancer drop your expected costs from $150,000 per patient to $10,000 per patient. Just getting your workforce to go to their doctor once per year and get their screenings on time can save well over 1%. Incentivize healthy choices like smoking cessation, healthy cooking classes, wellness programs, exercise breaks at work, ergonomic atmospheres, reducing stress, can all have dramatic savings impacts.
Only a few employers are really committed to wellness. One such local employer is the Paradise Valley Unified School District. Their employee Insurance Committee will be working with Aon/Hewitt and the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) to accomplish strategic healthcare planning for teachers and other employees of the district. The VSEBT already offers ready made programs including WellStyles and PREP, which offer either awards or lower premiums in exchange for healthy choices. These programs were designed and implemented by Sheri Gilbert of VSEBT specifically to address school district needs.
By focusing on individual employers, the strategic wellness plan can be tailored to that organization’s culture, structure, and specific health needs. In the case of school districts, they have a higher number of women employees and a higher average age and tenure. This means more emphasis is placed on stress, depression, migraine prevention, and breast cancer early detection.
Each employer should seriously examine its own healthcare costs to see how you can impact the bottom line by encouraging healthier, happier, and less costly employee benefits by offering rewards to your employees for good healthcare choices and regular examinations.