Companies Seek Insurance Cuts for Wellness Programs
As the number of businesses offering wellness programs for employees continues to grow, health insurers have been hesitant to reward such programs by lowering health insurance premiums, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Wellness programs include on-site fitness centers, weight-loss programs and smoking-cessation programs, according to the Chronicle.
Health insurers generally do not offer reduced rates to companies that create their own wellness programs. Instead, insurers tend to recognize only wellness programs that they sponsor, according to the Chronicle.
Chris Mittelstaedt -- CEO of FruitGuys, a San Francisco business that delivers fruit to employers -- said, "If you are helping to prevent chronic disease and keeping people more physically active and staying healthier, there should be a financial incentive to do that."
Mittelstaedt said businesses have difficulty proving to insurers that wellness programs are saving money.
However, several studies have shown that wellness programs save about $3 in reduced medical claims and absenteeism for every $1 spent on wellness programs.
Charles Bacchl, vice president of legislative affairs for the California Association of Health Plans, said, "We do see the value and we are trying to provide a benefit to folks who are doing the right thing."
Blue Shield of California, for example, offers Healthy Lifestyles Rewards, a program that rewards employees with cash and other prizes for filling out health questionnaires and engaging in healthy behavior (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/15).