Many employers have become skeptical about wellness programs and their effectiveness, after many implemented wellness programs and saw little or no return on their investment. As benefits advisors, we should believe in wellness and the effects it can have on health care costs, employee productivity, and an employer’s culture. The key to making an effective wellness plan is to create an environment of accountability; a wellness program without accountability is most often doomed to failure.

The question is, how can you create this environment? Most employees are financially motivated; it is important, then, that the employee has a real opportunity to gain financially by not only participating in the wellness plan, but also by changing certain poor lifestyle habits that impact their health.

With this in mind, here is a brief outline on how to create a wellness program with financial incentives that will place accountability first. Keep in mind that the industry and compensation of an employee will most certainly dictate how you structure the contribution differentials.

Wellness plan premium incentives

  • BMI
    • If BMI is <30: Premium credit is $3/week
    • If BMI is <28: Premium credit is $6/week
  • Cholesterol LDL
    • If LDL is <160: Premium credit is $2/week
    • If LDL is <130: Premium credit is $4/week
  • Blood pressure
    • If blood pressure is <140/90: Premium credit is $2/week
    • If blood pressure is <120/80: Premium credit is $4/week
  • Nontobacco
    • Nontobacco: Premium credit is $6/week

What makes a great wellness program?

With wellness programs, the employer is investing in its most valuable resource – its employees. Therefore, there are several important characteristics that must be present:

  • Support from upper management. Employees need to see the company leaders take wellness seriously, and see that they are committed to its success.
  • Insightful claims data from the carrier. You cannot help your client manage what they don’t know. Use this information to help develop the wellness program.
  • Lay out a three-year plan for your client. This provides your client with the confidence that you have a plan and are not using a “flavor of the month” approach. Organization breeds credibility.
  • Tell your client to form a wellness committee. This should be composed of a diverse group of employees. Volunteer to come to the first several meetings to facilitate a meaningful dialogue and encourage participation. Make it fun – part of being well is living well and sharing this enthusiasm with employees and clients.

Joe Perkins is a broker with Indianapolis-based MJ Insurance.