Medical Self Care

Health insurance carriers offer many options for your employees to become better healthcare consumers and make more intelligent decisions about their healthcare. Promoting the information to your employees is vital. If the information is not made available to them, they will probably not utilize these great options. At Open Enrollment meetings these topics may have been discussed, but the employees were overloaded with data and probably did not retain it all.

selfcareI suggest implementing a marketing plan to promote these services either monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Your marketing should include multiple layers of marketing such as flyers, posters, table tents in break rooms, payroll stuffers, lunch and learns, webinars, social media blasts, links on intranet, or emails.  Below are services available, but they may differ depending on the carrier, the group size, and whether you are fully insured or self-funded.

  • Telahealth
  • Ask-a-nurse
  • Prescription drug services
  • Find a provider/facility
  • Healthcost estimator
  • Preventive care
  • Health coaching
  • Advocacy programs
  • Use carriers’ websites and apps for access to insurance cards, benefits, claims, and much more.
  • Wellness discounts

If you are unsure of your carrier’s offerings or would like assistance to prepare this information, please contact me and I will be happy to assist you.

How Healthy Employees Save You Money

America is one of the most obese countries in the world. As a result, many Americans suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. On average, two-thirds of all US medical spending goes toward combatting the complications associated with these two ailments. The majority of these expenses are related to health problems resulting from unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles that compound existing issues. For example, lack of exercise and poor diet exacerbates existing health issues and leads to employees visiting the doctor’s office rather than their workplace. To mitigate the prevalence of health problems and rising medical costs, employers offer workplace wellness programs.

What are workplace wellness programs?

Workplace wellness programs range from healthy lunch and snack options in the office break room to on-site fitness centers. The aim of wellness programs is to improve the health and well-being of employees, increase their productivity, reduce their risk of costly chronic disease, and improve control of chronic conditions. These programs consist of two components: a lifestyle management program and a disease management program. Lifestyle management programs promote the idea of health promotion, which according to the World Health Organization is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. The other aspect, disease management, represents a coordinated effort to help employees with an existing chronic disease to take better care of themselves to avoid serious complications associated with their disease. Workplace wellness programs have grown in popularity and now represent a $6 billion a year industry in the USA.

What saves employers money?

According to a study conducted by the Rand Corporation, the workplace wellness program itself reduces health care expenses for the employer by about $30 per member per month (PMPM). In layman’s terms, a company can save a boat load of money if they pay attention to the health needs of their employees. Of the two components, the disease management program generates the most savings PMPM because the measures implemented in this component cut the number and length of expensive hospital stays as a result of chronic disease. On the other hand, lifestyle management programs do not offer massive savings PMPM; however, one must not forget about their importance in contributing to healthy lifestyles. More employees partake in the lifestyle management programs than disease management programs and participation in lifestyle management increases productivity and reduces absenteeism, two metrics that contribute to elevated company revenues.

Benefits of workplace wellness programs.

Workplace wellness programs benefit both the employer and the employee. For the employer, these programs allow them to save money on health care costs. While statistically disease management programs ultimately save the employer more money than lifestyle management programs, there are significant benefits to both. The benefits of disease management programs are realized in a shorter term because they combat imminent health care costs. Lifestyle management programs’ benefits are more of a long-term benefit because they contribute to prevention of chronic disease down the road. Employers need to have clear-cut goals for their workplace wellness program that focus not only on disease management to mitigate health care costs but also on lifestyle management so that the people that they employ can enjoy a better quality of life that translates into increased productivity. Workplace wellness is a win for everyone involved!

Do Activity Trackers Belong in Your Wellness Program?

Activity Trackers

Are activity trackers a step in the right direction?

Employers want healthier employees and some are willing to put money on it. Employers are buying, or subsidizing, activity trackers for their employees. This trend is showing momentum, but is it making an impact?

Of the many wellness articles on this subject, many companies are happy with their decision to provide fitness trackers to their employees. Some employers use it as tool for employees to take responsibility for their health and this is an avenue to assist them, while others use it for tracking and “friendly” competitions throughout the workplace. The end result is more active employees. For example the wellness vendor, beBetter, states that only 20% of their business uses some type of device or activity tracker. This number jumps to an 80% participation rate if the employer subsidizes the cost of an activity tracker.

A study done by the American College of Sports Medicine shows people who wore Fitness Trackers spent less time sitting, more time being active, and lost more weight. One of the many benefits of the devices is the social aspects which help motivate employees. Most devices allow the user to start or join competitions with coworkers and friends. This type of communication and reminders are great motivational tools that can spark more physical activity.

Fitbit seems to have the market on corporate wellness, but there are other products hitting the market. Here is an article from Wearable listing the best fitness trackers in 2016. They offer a quick review along with price points. The cost to implement is anywhere from $60 to $120 per employee, depending on the device.

When there are so many benefits to a healthy workplace, allocating money to a well-rounded wellness plan pays off in more way than one. Happy and healthy employees are more productive, engaged and may reduce your employee benefits costs in the long run. Please contact Trish Blocker, W3’s On-Site Wellness Coordinator, if you have any questions about instituting activity trackers into your wellness programs.

Why Your Employees Aren’t Participating in Wellness Programs

So you have done everything right, planned a lunch and learn, booked a fantastic speaker, provided lunch, and then waited for everyone to show up.  Or you had a grand idea about a walking competition to get everyone moving more. Then the lack of participation is shocking and you are left to wonder why. According to WELCOA (Wellness Council of America) the first few steps of a successful wellness program is to survey the employees about their interests. If you skipped that step, it is like getting a teenager to clean their room, it Is not happening. Remember “wellness is something you do FOR people, not TO them”.

HealthMine, provider of a personalized health portal for employers and insurers, surveyed 1,200 consumers  about wellness programs and the reasons that hold them back from participating. Lack of time is usually high on everyone’s list., which is not surprising and below are the other barriers listed on their aggregate report:

11 Reasons Why Employees Don't Use Wellness Programs

Many of these obstacles are similar to what clients at W3 are experiencing. The employee interest survey, senior level endorsement of the program, and proper promotion can help overcome some of these objections. Also, as you continue your wellness program you need to keep a pulse on the employees by tracking participation, using surveys and feedback constructively, and be consistent. Eventually, you will see a culture shift towards healthier lifestyles and the employees privacy and security concerns will lessen.

Be transparent with your aggregate results so the employee will feel some ownership in the wellness programming. A dashboard on your intranet displaying  aggregate biometric results, participation numbers from wellness competitions, success stories, and future wellness offerings can help make your program more sustainable.  “Arming individuals with clinical data helps make wellness meaningful. But overcoming inertia to take a healthy action is the first step,” said Bryce Williams, CEO and President of HealthMine. If your Wellness Program is not getting the participation that it should contact me to analyze where you can tweak your programming, promotions, incentives, etc to have better engagement.

Download Free Wellness Calendar

Maintain Don’t Gain Competitions – Creating a Healthy Workplace

Maintain, Don't Gain Competition! - W3ins.comDid you know that the average American gains about one pound during the holidays? How much of that new found weight do you think they will lose in the new year? Not much, if any. That can add up to a lot of extra weight over the years. Help fuel a happy and healthy workplace with a friendly competition.

This season celebrate your health by making a pledge to eating right and exercising more. Choose nutritious foods, eat healthy portion sizes, exercise, and don’t forget to get enough sleep. Email or post weekly health-related articles to keep the competition fresh in their mind.

Take workplace wellness to the next level. Challenge your employees to take this Healthy Holiday Pledge or host a competition between employees. Have them weigh-in early December and weigh-out the first week in January. You may have better participation if you offer prizes to the employees or teams that maintained their original weight. Is your budget tight for incentives? Have a raffle for the winners.  Each winner can earn one raffle chance for maintaining and an additional raffle chance if they lose weight during the competition. The prize could be a “free” jeans week, an afternoon off, or a gift card to a sporting goods store.

Wallace welch & Willingham employees participate almost every year. You can hear it in the breakroom. “Gotta Maintain!” “I’m going for a walk. I have to walk off that bite of brownie!” Our employees are pumped to have a chance to win! We usually do a raffle for a cash prize or gift card. We have prizes for one group for those that maintained, and one for those who lost. It’s one of our most popular competitions. Most people don’t want to gain weight during the holidays, but need encouragement and a reason to stay strong and fight temptation.

Are Your Employees Getting their Flu Shots?

 

Employee with Flu ShotFacts About the Flu and Flu Vaccine

Healthy adults can spread the flu virus the day before they feel sick. On average, each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu related complications. Prevention is the main defense to minimizing the risk of spreading the flu virus. Help fight the flu for yourself, your family and those around you.

Prevention Suggestions:

· Get the flu vaccine.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze.
· Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading the flu to others. The CDC recommends staying home 24 hours after the fever is gone.
· If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness. These drugs can make the illness milder and shorten the time you are sick, but it suggested starting this treatment within the first two days of symptoms.

Where can you get the flu shot?

Your employees can go to participating network doctors or participating retail locations. This is a covered benefit for most groups; just remind them to show their insurance card. Check your insurance website for participating pharmacies or contact your wellness coordinator for assistance with plan information.

Keeping employees healthy and happy is important to your company.

 

6 Reasons Why “Technology-Backed” Trumps “Technology-Based” Employee Benefits

What do you expect from your broker when offering employee benefits? 

Employee BenefitsAre you looking for a trusted advisor who offers the expert help and service needed for you to choose the best employee benefits for your company? Or are you looking for a way to streamline paperwork and ease the administrative burden on HR? Either way, an independent insurance agency, like Wallace Welch & Willingham, is always going to be your best bet.

An independent agency gives you the expert guidance that makes the benefits selection, implementation, and analysis a smooth process. We use technology to offer you a variety of tools and resources that make the benefits administration process virtually painless.

If you are considering moving your HR tasks to a platform like Zenefits or Gusto you must take a look at the bigger picture. These companies can give you HR software, with benefits thrown into the mix, but they are, first and foremost, technology-based and technology-focused. You will not receive the benefits support and personalized service that a local agent provides.

Check out what Wallace Welch & Willingham can offer compared to these new technology-based companies.

1.) Industry Focused

We are focused on your needs and have the expertise necessary to guide you through the plan-choosing process. We’re here to answer questions, provide guidance, and support your HR needs with our HR tools: MillsonJames and the Seay HR Hotline. We’re here to serve you, and we have the personalized service, backed by technology, to help you succeed.

Technology-based companies are focused on providing you with HR software. Once they lure you in with free basic HR technology, they encourage you to switch to them for your benefits—helping  you with benefits is a concern secondary to the software.

2.) Local Presence

Wallace Welch & Willingham is located near you, and we’re proud members of this community. We understand what’s happening in the benefits marketplace, both locally and nationally, and we understand your business. If you want to communicate on the phone or over email, we’ll respond promptly. We’ll be there to sit down face-to-face and guide you through the benefits selection and strategic planning process. When you need us, we’re here for you.

Technology-based companies are headquartered in other states, working in virtual clouds. Zenefits, for instance, is based out of California. Their representatives rarely, if ever, meet with clients and they lack a local presence and understanding. If you enroll in benefits through them, you forfeit the ability to have personalized, face-to-face meetings to help you achieve your goals.

3.) Knowledge & Experience

We help you choose the best benefits, guide you through the open enrollment process, run health claims diagnostics, and sit down with you to develop strategic plans for lowering costs due to health claims. We understand that benefits are more than just benefits—they are an important recruitment and retention tool and choosing the right ones will help you keep your employees happy. We also provide you with compliance information and employee communications, so you are never left to struggle on your own. W3 has been in the insurance industry for over 90 years. We have the knowledge behind our products to offer the best solutions to our clients.

Technology-based companies will automate what they can, but, unfortunately, expert insight and advice cannot be obtained from a computer. Their sales people have were hired (recently) with one objective; to sell their product. Their ability to compete with local insurance agencies based on product knowledge is extremely limited.

4.) Service & Year-Round Support 

We are here for you year-round, and you never have to wonder if you’ll be able to reach someone. While open enrollment is often the most challenging time of the year, we don’t abandon our clients the other 11 months of the year. When you work with us, you’ll personally know who you’re talking to.  We bring an understanding of your business and a solid history of past exchanges to each new conversation. We provide consistent, prompt communication and guidance, and we are ready to serve you.

Zenefits is massive, but its size can be a disadvantage for clients who want to know who they are speaking to. You also want to know that your broker has a contextual and institutional understanding behind each new question or concern.

5.) Pricing Transparency

We are upfront with you about costs. If we are ever going to charge you a fee for an added service, we’ll let you know in a clear and timely manner so you can make an informed decision. We promise never to say “free” if we don’t mean it.

Technology-based companies claim to be free.  That statement is true for their “core features, ” however, beyond those basics, clients run into extra costs. These costs often include a monthly fee per-employee for certain features and even a per-employee charge for delaying implementation of core features.

6.) Compliance and Content

We provide our clients with content to meet business and employees’ needs.  We give you access to W3 Client Connect, a content portal, where you can target the information you need if you want to self-serve. Need help with compliance? Want employee newsletters? Need articles explaining benefits or related topics? Thinking about starting a wellness program? Want to make benefits education fun with short videos for employees? Whatever you’re looking for, we can deliver customized content and training for you.

These new technology-based companies don’t have a content library, employee educational articles, videos or newsletters, or wellness staff and program materials.

Technology-backed or Technology-based? 

When you are faced with a choice between Wallace Welch & Willingham and a technology-based company, consider what makes us different. Are you looking for a trusted advisor who can offer assistance while being backed by technology to make the process easier? Or are you looking for a technology-based solution that kicks service and expertise to the curb?

If you’re looking for a benefits expert who is technology-backed to meet your needs, contact Wallace Welch & Willingham today.

 

Promote Men’s Wellness in Your Workplace

Men’s Health Week is Coming up!June is Men's Health Month

On June 15th – 21st, promote healthy lifestyles in your workplace to maintain a robust wellness strategy.

Get the Wellness Screenings You Need

Screenings are an important part of your healthcare and lifestyle. Make sure you are up to date with your age specific requirements.

Here are common screenings you should get:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm – If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
  • Colorectal cancer – Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 (or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer).
  • Depression – Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for depression, particularly if recently have felt down, sad or hopeless or have little interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed.
  • Diabetes – Get screened for diabetes if you blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure. Diabetes (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves and other body parts.
  • High blood pressure – Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.
  • High cholesterol – If you are 35 or older, have your cholesterol checked. High cholesterol increases your chance of heart disease, stroke and poor circulation.
  • Lung cancer – If you are between the ages of 55 and 80 or have a history of smoking, check with your doctor about getting screened for lung cancer.
  • Overweight and obesity – The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI). You can find your BMI by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator.
  • Immunizations
    • Get a flu shot every year.
    • Check the recommended vaccines for your age here.

You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about (such as prostate or skin cancer), not just the ones listed here.

Get Healthy, Stay Healthy.


What can I do as an employer?

  • Promote a “Wear Blue” day –Maybe the Friday before Father’s Day?
  • Make brochures and information available to them regarding Men’s Health issues and prevention guidelines.
  • Host a picnic, healthy lunch, seminar, or sporting event to celebrate the awareness of Men’s Health.

Source: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

 

 

Be Active, Be Healthy

Instead of investing an hour at the gym, what if you could become more fit with 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there throughout your day? The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. However, you will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.

The best ways to increase your motivation to exercise is to understand the importance of it.

benefits of a healthy lifestyle

 

Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter.

www.heart.org