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Maximizing Employees’ Health and Financial Wellness in 2018 Starts Now

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You may already be helping your group benefits clients plan for the 2018 benefits year.

Each new year offers a clean slate and an opportunity to set ambitious goals for the year ahead. Improving spending habits consistently ranks as one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions each year, and it’s safe to say that the same will be true in 2018. However, while many people may set New Year’s resolutions, a staggering 92% fail to meet their goals, according to Statistic Brain.

(Related: 7 Threats to Supplemental Health in the Major Medical Storm)

A recent survey from Gallup found that Americans were more worried about finances in 2016 than in 2015. Knowing that financial stress can lead to an employee having poor physical and mental health, advisers can provide clients with the resources to help their employees ease financial stress and increase overall health. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you provide clients guidance to ensure employees are off to a strong start that keeps them on the path to achieving the goals they’ll be setting for 2018.

Decreasing medical spending can increase financial wellness

Health care spending rose 5.8% to $3.2 trillion in 2015, which is approximately $10,000 for every person in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. Being proactive against rising medical costs is an essential first step in avoiding financial stress and staying on track with health and financial wellness goals. Here are three steps advisers can share with clients to help employees stay ahead of unexpected costs:

1. Compare health care costs before treatment occurs. To mitigate rising health care costs, employees should shop around for the most affordable health care treatments, as they would with other products or services. The idea of shopping around when it comes to health care services can be daunting for employees, but it is a simple approach to getting the best value for your dollar. Employers can share online comparison tools to help employees find quality care at the best price before treatment occurs.

2. Monitor health spending. Throughout the year, clients can remind employees to track medical spending and identify areas of care with the largest expenses. By remaining mindful of employee spending, clients will be more likely to understand their employees’ needs and can work with advisers to offer tailored voluntary benefits solutions during the next enrollment period that will provide more targeted financial protection in areas where employees experienced greater expenses.

3. Increase benefits education. Extended benefits communication can improve employee understanding of the options offered and increase employee participation, which can reduce health care spending. Clients can distribute informational materials to make sure employees understand the four W’s of their plans: who and what are covered by benefits plans, when they should use specific services and why certain product options are best utilized in certain situations.

Expanding wellness programs can improve overall health

In recent years, wellness programs have grown in popularity and remain a viable option for improving the overall wellness of clients’ workforces by encouraging preventative care throughout the year. Some common wellness program options include those that allow employees to manage weight, sleeping habits and blood pressure, discontinue tobacco use, and provide access to programs like nutrition planning meetings or gym memberships.

Emotional wellness should not be forgotten when working with clients to create a wellness program for their employees. Mindfulness, meditation and yoga courses are effective options to reduce stress and increase engagement at work. Wellness program options are endless, but remind clients that to be truly effective, their wellness program should be tailored specifically to employees’ needs. And what better way to understand what employees really need out of a program than to go straight to the source and build out a plan from there?

A step in the right direction

Proper preparation and clear action steps can help employees stay ahead of health and financial goals. By providing support and tailored solutions, advisers can make sure clients and their employees get a strong start.

— Read You Can Sell More Hospital Indemnity Insurance on ThinkAdvisor.