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WEL - Wellness Account

Wellness accounts (Health Risk Assessments)

The Purpose
Every day, many people mortgage their long-term health with the lifestyle they lead today. Behaviors such as lack of exercise, smoking, poor diet, and not wearing seat belts are among the factors that increase a person's risk of getting sick or dying prematurely. However, general knowledge of these risks do not always change behavior, and people don't necessarily know which of their risks needs the most attention. Health risk assessments (HRAs) provide a scientific way of turning intuitive knowledge into measurable odds.

In an attempt to control ever-spiraling healthcare costs, many employers and health plans are providing incentives to employees and participants to improve their health status (e.g., lose weight or get in better shape). Wellness accounts (Health risk assessments) provide a tool for evaluating health status, identifying opportunities for improvement, and provide valuable feedback to the participant regarding personal health and risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. Additionally, many health plans and employers also provide incentives for participants completing the health risk assessment.

Workplace Wellness
There are a vast number of types of workplace wellness programs. In general, workplace wellness programs encourage people to take steps to prevent the onset or worsening of a health condition or sickness and to adopt lifestyles that are healthier. Businesses may implement many types of workplace wellness programs, from onsite gyms to simple workplace wellness newsletters. While some corporations have instituted very comprehensive workplace wellness programs, others have achieved savings or increased productivity with a few relatively easy activities which promote healthier lifestyles. Getting started is what matters the most. Having a plan, along with one or two workplace wellness programs, can serve as a foundation for building a more comprehensive program at a future time.

Why Workplace Wellness Programs?
Workplace wellness programs are an investment in your company's most important resource, your workers. Studies have shown that workers are more likely to be on the job and performing well when they are feeling well both physically and mentally. Workers are also more likely to be attracted to, remain with, and appreciate a employer that values them. Workplace wellness initiatives improve company productivity by:

   ·  Attracting superior quality staff;
  
·  Reducing the rate of absenteeism and time lost;
   
·  Enhancing on-the-job time utilization and decision making;
   ·  Improving worker morale, which in turn lowers turnover.

Workplace wellness programs have also been shown to be an effective tools in slowing the growth of health care costs. Selecting healthier options may reduce an worker's chances of suffering from illness. Less illness means businesses can lower health plan utilization, thereby lowering health benefit costs, and consequently increasing earnings. While health cost savings from workplace wellness programs may be less evident than productivity gains, research shows that medically high-risk workers are medically high-cost workers as they use additional health care and generate higher claims.

Finally, by investing in workplace wellness programs , businesses will be helping the United States achieve two of its major Healthy People 2010 workplace objectives:

   1. 75% of all employers, regardless of size, providing a wide reaching staff workplace wellness program;
   2. 75% of all a company's staff participating in employer-sponsored workplace wellness program activities.