Is a Healthy Workforce a Competitive Advantage? – 10/12/10

OCT 12

Speculation regarding the impact of health reform has run rampant across the United States, much of which has focused on whether employers will continue to offer health coverage to their employees or instead provide employees with cash to find their own plan. While the answer to this question may be important to health plans and third party administrators (TPAs), it is likely less impactful to population health management vendors selling directly to employers.

Regardless of the type of health coverage (or lack thereof) offered by employers, workforce health will continue to be a critical strategic and operational issue for companies to manage. In fact, there may be companies or whole industries that differentiate themselves as employers of choice through programs focused on improving and maintaining employee health.

How can a company that offers minimal health benefits to employees, or none at all, compete with a firm with a comprehensive health program? Health reform is driving employers toward comprehensive programs to not only attract and retain better talent, but drive higher productivity and have employees that feel more valued by their employer.

As we advise best-in-class wellness service providers, the benefits of a healthy workforce in a post-reform world remain top of mind, chiefly:

  • Will the potential savings from not offering a health program truly outweigh the potential effects of that decision?
  • How will the discontinuance of health benefits impact absenteeism, presenteeism and workers’ compensation claims?

Studies repeatedly show remarkable stats, including recent data from Indiana University-Purdue University, finding that 87.5 percent of health care claims costs are due to an individual’s lifestyle. The business case for successful wellness programs focused on improving participants’ lifestyles to prevent the onset of chronic conditions is significant and growing as healthcare costs continue to rise. Even if fewer employers are the direct payer of healthcare claims as a result of healthcare reform, optimizing workforce health will continue to be a direct benefit for employers.

Employer healthcare issues are central themes to TripleTree’s continued work in the broad category of population health management. Look for more insights here, and in an upcoming report scheduled for Q1’11.

Thanks and have a great week!

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Jason Grais