Prepare to get well
With health costs going up, employers are finding that it pays to keep employees healthy.
Wellness programs, a fixture for some time in work-based health benefits, continue to gain traction. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 77% of firms offering employee health benefits also provide at least one wellness program.
If you participate in health improvement programs, such as anti-smoking and weight-loss plans, you may have a chance to earn back some of your increased cost-sharing. Employers these days often reward participation with lower insurance premiums, cash and gift cards.
But you'll have to make good on your promise to get healthy if you want your reward. Many employers require that you take action, and in some instances measure the outcomes of those activities, before paying up.
Getting care at work
Many large companies either have or are considering health clinics on their work site where employees can get preventive tests and screenings, health coaching, monitoring for chronic health conditions such as diabetes, and, in some cases, low-cost medications.
Almost a third of employers with 500 or more workers offer a work-based health clinic, according to a survey by the consulting firm Mercer.
Sibrian says a number of his clients have built on-site clinics. American Apparel Inc. in downtown Los Angeles has one, and Farmer John plans to open one staffed with a physician, nurse and health educator early next year.
The key is to get people engaged in their health and to change behaviors that lead to chronic illness, he says. "It will make it easier for employees to get access to preventive care during work hours."
Zamosky writes about healthcare and health insurance. She is also the author of a new book, "Healthcare, Insurance and You: The Savvy Consumer's Guide."