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Health Management Still Matters

July 3, 2012 – Scottsdale, AZ – In yesterday’s blog, we spoke about some of the compliance obligations for employers as they move forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  In today’s entry, the focus is on overall health management.  Health-care costs will continue to rise and employers must continue to focus on managing these costs, while still providing value to employees.  It goes without saying that illness and unhealthy behaviors not only impact health-care costs, but they also affect disability costs, absenteeism rates, presenteeism, employee engagement, and overall health and productivity.  As health-care costs have risen dramatically during the past decade, employers have had little choice but to pay attention to the collective health of their employee population.  Employers more and more are depending on health and wellness initiatives to build and foster a successful and productive workforce.

Whether you’ve been a "wait-and-see" practitioner or proactive in terms of implementing the provisions of the law, it’s time to talk with senior leadership about the role of health-care for your future total rewards value proposition.  Although the health-care marketplace and the role of employer-sponsored health-care after 2014 may look and feel differently for each organization (depending on a host of factors), the bottom line is that, without a healthy workforce, the organization suffers in a variety of ways.  Everyone loses – both the employer and the employees.   

While much of the energy might currently be around compliance responsibilities, HR/benefits practitioners must not lose sight of the day-to-day need to focus on promoting employee and family wellness, as well as search for new and innovative ways to manage costs.  According to the 2010 World Economic Forum, there are 8 risks and behaviors that drive 15 chronic conditions that account for about 80% of total costs for all chronic illnesses worldwide.  No matter how the Supreme Court was to rule, employers still need to identify, and better address the risk factors and unhealthy behaviors that impact their particular workforce.

As we move forward with implementation of the law, organizations need to address compliance, health-care strategies and communications.  Each of these are extremely important and intertwined, and overarching all of this is the need for employers to encourage, support, and help manage employees’ overall health and well-being.  The simple fact is that healthy workers are more productive and resilient.  

It’s a lot to take on, but it’s the perfect opportunity for benefits practitioners to step up to the plate and take on an even more strategic role in their organizations.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of WorldatWork.

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