Independence Blue Cross Report: Wellness Programs Mean Healthier Employees and Healthier Bottom Lines
November 14, 2013
PHILADELPHIA – Independence Blue Cross (IBC) has issued a report that concludes well-designed wellness programs lead to healthier, more productive employees, and that in turn translates to a healthier bottom line for their employers.
"Devoting time and resources to a wellness program becomes a strategic investment in both the company's present and future," said Kimberly Eberbach, IBC's vice president, Wellness and Community Health. "Employees who aren't healthy have lower levels of productivity and higher health costs. Employers end up bearing the extra costs, both in higher premiums and lower output."
The report, entitled Employee Wellness as a Strategic Business Imperative, says the rewards of wellness programs – and the reason organizations are offering them – go far beyond reducing the price of employee benefits. These programs can also generate competitive advantages like employee retention, higher morale, and more engaged employees.
Satisfied, healthy employees have lower turnover rates and lower health expenses. In fact, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum, 64 percent of workers who say they are satisfied with their company's wellness program plan to stay a minimum of five years at that company.
The issue of improving employees' health is especially relevant in Philadelphia County, which according to a recent University of Wisconsin report ranked the least healthy of Pennsylvania's 67 counties. Delaware County fares just slightly better with a ranking of 41. States, cities, and towns recognize that a community's health affects its ability to attract and retain business and talent, according to experts cited in the IBC report. Companies want to do business in a city where their potential workforce is healthy, with lower health care costs and higher productivity.
IBC offers comprehensive, clinically-based wellness programs modeled on the seven-step benchmark approach, inspired by The Wellness Council of America, which include capturing CEO support, creating wellness teams, collecting data to drive the program, and creating a supportive environment. "Buy-in from senior leadership must drive the program," Eberbach said. "For wellness programs to truly succeed, they have to help employees take charge of their own health through sustained behavioral changes. Wellness programs can help create an awareness of health risks, but the ultimate measure of success is empowering employees to consistently care for themselves."
The report notes that the use of incentives can enable employees to become more involved with caring for their health. It can also generate substantial payback for employers by promoting employee engagement. A survey of 1,400 employers cited in the IBC report showed that the participation rate of employees who completed a health risk survey was 48% with incentives, compared to a participation rate of 34% without incentives.
Recognizing the critical need for employee wellness initiatives, IBC designs programs driven by the goals of a given organization. IBC guides companies through developing and launching their programs and then adds ongoing support to achieve successful results.
Organizations that want more information on employee wellness programs can talk with their broker or IBC representative, or they may call 215-241-2263 (fewer than 300 employees) or 215-241- 4773 (more than 300 employees).
About Independence Blue Cross
Proudly celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2013, Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania serving more than seven million people nationwide, including 2.2 million in the region. We are enhancing the health and wellness of the people and communities we serve by delivering innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneering new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and supporting programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more about how we're changing the game, visit www.ibx.com. Connect with us on Facebook at ibx.com/facebook and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally-operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 105 million members – one-in-three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit bcbs.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog, for up-to-date information about BCBSA.