Today we hosted The Future of Health Care: Health and Wellness @ Work for Your Business’ Bottom Line. The topic of health and wellness at work is important to all businesses – especially as health care costs rise and health care reform starts to be implemented.
Our four panelists – Donna Steward of Association of Washington Business; Dr. Kyle Dosch of Washington Dental Service; Mark Patrick of Moloney + O’Neill Benefits, LLC; and Elisabeth Buchman of Group Health Cooperative – all spoke to the ways health care reform is changing the way businesses provide or don’t provide benefits, and how businesses can create a “culture of health” in the workplace.
Steward spoke about federal health care reform and what businesses can expect. There still seems to be some confusion over the various mandates and regulations, and when and how much a business would be penalized for various violations.
For example, individuals will be required to purchase health insurance starting in 2014. Also starting in 2014 will be penalties for some employers. If a company employs more than 50 people and one employee accesses a federal subsidy for health insurance, that employer will be penalized.
Dr. Dosch gave some insight on how lots of medical issues can be traced back to poor dental health. One such example is diabetes. As Dr. Dosch’s presentation said, “Periodontal disease triggers the body’s inflammatory response which can affect insulin sensitivity and lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels.”
Another example was heart disease. Dr. Dosch also said, “Individuals with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.”
Dr. Dosch encouraged employers to provide dental coverage and educate employees about their coverage plans because long-term savings from improved dental care pays off.
Our next two presenters focused on wellness programs in the workplace. Mark Patrick from Moloney + O’Neill Benefits said wellness programs should have some return on the investment (ROI). Handing out fun trinkets and implementing feel-good programs don’t have any significant ROI. Patrick introduced his I-DOC method of wellness programs:
- Incentives for participation
- Data to identify short-term ROI
- Outreach to support high risk
- Change behavior with health management
Elisabeth Buchman of Group Health Cooperative spoke about wellness incentives and how to properly utilize them. Buchman said incentives should have a purpose, a process and a payoff. Complying with privacy laws is also crucial for businesses looking to implement some sort of wellness program.
She also pointed out that some small businesses are eligible for grants to establish a wellness program.
Everybody is a customer of health care. Future reform will affect all businesses, and these presentations serve as a way to educate businesses on what to expect.