If you get health insurance at work, chances are you have some sort of wellness plan, too. But so far there’s no real evidence about whether these plans actually improve the health of employees.
One thing we do know is that wellness is particularly popular with employers right now, as they seek ways to slow the rise of health spending. These initiatives can range from urging workers to use the stairs to requiring comprehensive health screenings.
The 2014 survey of employers by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 98 percent of large employers and 73 percent of smaller employers offer at least one wellness program. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
What makes wellness so popular with companies?
“It really is part of their strategy to help employees be healthy, productive, and engaged,” says Maria Ghazal, vice president and counsel at the Business Roundtable, whose members are CEOs of large firms. “And it’s really part of their strategy to be successful companies.”
And there’s another reason wellness has gotten so pervasive, said health consultant Al Lewis. Workplace wellness is a big industry unto itself.
“It’s somewhere between $6 [billion] and $10 billion, which creates an awful lot of people saying, ‘Do more of this stuff,’ ” he says.
Lewis has become something of a crusader against the spread of wellness around the nation. (He’s co-author of an e-book detailing its failings.) Among the many problems with wellness plans, he says, is that a
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