Wellness is a dynamic industry, and trends change quickly as health care evolves, technologies emerge, and innovations become best practice.
At my company, WebMD Health Services, we’re watching several key areas as we work with some of the world’s leading organizations to help them manage their population’s health and wellness.
1. The incentives evolution
Health care reform is making its mark on wellness, most recently with the government’s final regulations concerning the maximum rewards employers can offer under wellness programs beginning in 2014.
Some of these were expected, such as raising the maximum reward to 30 percent of the total cost of coverage for health-contingent wellness programs, and 50 percent for tobacco cessation programs.
But they also presented new concepts, including greater deference to an individual’s physician to determine whether a plan’s “reasonable alternative standard” is appropriate.
These clarifications are important as we see organizations moving toward more progressive incentive programs that focus on achieving specific health outcomes.
2. Integrating transparency with wellness
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has also put healthcare transparency at center stage. Under the ACA, certain routine preventive care services are now mandated.
They can, however, have significant price variations. So can more complex services.
The industry is in full agreement that consumers need better cost transparency to make informed decisions. But price shouldn’t be the only factor – and shouldn’t exist in a vacuum.
We’ve long believed it’s important to integrate consumer guidance solutions – including cost, quality, news, alerts, educational content, and social networks – together with wellness.