The impact wellness programs have on companies is becoming a well-known fact across employers big and small. Large, mid-sized, and small businesses are noticing the positive impact of wellness benefits. Many businesses are finding ways to provide their employees with a wellness program.

This also calls for insurance carriers to shift their focus. Insurance carriers should offer basic medical benefits along with wellness benefits ‘baked-in’ to their health insurance plans. 

Large employers have been quicker to implement wellness benefits, as 80% of companies with over 1,000 employees have wellness programs. This percentage declines as the number of employees lower - only 33% of companies with 50-100 employees have implemented wellness programs. 

Many wellness programs have to be built from scratch if insurance providers do not provide wellness programs in their health coverage. While large employers have the capacity to build their own programs, small employers may not. Smaller companies may not be implementing wellness programs because employers and insurance companies alike assume the higher cost of wellness programs. 

Cost of Wellness Programs 

More employers are looking to implement wellness and health benefits, but it is not easily accessible. Insurance companies are hesitant to expand their healthcare plans to include wellness benefits. Often, insurance carriers assume it will translate to higher costs for them, and dissuade employers from becoming partners.

The average cost of wellness programs is between $36-$90 per year for each employee. This is on top of the average annual cost of $5,000 in premiums for individual employees, or $14,000 for families. Higher premium costs are becoming more of a concern as the popularity of wellness benefits grows.

Technology continues to evolve and make it easy to accommodate employees, with resources like telehealth and mindfulness apps. These will bring a high ROI, and it is much easier to provide wellness programs than many think. 

What have Insurance Carriers Included in Wellness Benefits?

As wellness programs gained popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was up to employers to offer wellness benefits. These wellness benefits would often center around specific groups of people to encourage healthy behaviors. These benefits would include resources to help encourage exercise, weight loss, and smoking cessation. Employers are now looking to their insurance companies to include resources of their own.

Some insurance companies have included gym memberships, weight loss clinics, and stress management resources. They also offer discounts on products that help employees practice healthy behaviors, like using an electric toothbrush. 

Insurance companies today still have a heavy focus on medical health coverage for employee benefits. Some of the top insurance companies are making medical resources more accessible with online prescriptions, nurse hotlines, and digital wellness benefits. As the world of wellness programs expands, employers and wellness programs alike will begin to offer more holistic employee benefits.

Shifting Focus with Wellness Programs

Instead of wellness programs focusing on specific issues, they're shifting towards employers offering a more holistic approach to wellness. Employers with a well-rounded wellness program provide employees with preventative care measures. This includes things like immunizations, gym memberships, mental health resources, nutrition guides, and more to encourage healthy habits. 

Employers are also finding advantages in partnering with wellness program companies like Peerfit. With Peerfit, employers can offer access to gyms, workout classes, and more to help with overall physical and mental health. All of these benefits are often at no cost to the employee, as they are covered by their insurance. 

These multifaceted benefits can help any employee and meet their specific needs while remaining accessible. While wellness benefits are sometimes included in individual health insurance, employees learn about jobs that offer wellness benefits. Companies experience a higher advantage by providing holistic health coverage to their team members. 

Advantages to Holistic Wellness Programs

On paper, adding wellness programs into group health insurance may seem expensive. However, a holistic wellness program has many benefits and a strong long term ROI. Wellness benefits are shifting to take a preventative approach to health which helps both employers and insurance companies save medical expenses. 

With resources like stress management and health screenings, employers are less likely to experience serious health issues. Employees avoid doctor visits and hospital stays, and they take fewer sick days. Overall, wellness programs save 25% in health care costs, and sick days are reportedly reduced by 56%

Wellness programs have also been shown to create a positive work environment, encourage a good work/life balance, and increase productivity. This creates a positive relationship between employers and their team members. There are often high expectations when it comes to wellness benefits and their cost. Including wellness benefits will bring a strong ROI, enhance insurance carriers’ partnerships with employers, and employers’ relationships with their team.

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