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Why most wellness programs are destined to fail

Posted by Paula Turnquist

Despite their short-lived surge in popularity, wellness programs were never quite able to live up to their potential. Study after study have shown that employees simply don't enjoy participating in their company's incentive programs as much as their HR departments had hoped. While the reasons for this apathetic attitude vary from person to person, new research suggests a major gap between the incentives these programs offer and those their members actually want.

While monetary perks like cash or reduced insurance premiums would seem to be effective motivators, a recent study reported by Employee Benefit News found that a majority of corporate wellness programs don't incentivize key preventive behaviors. For example, as many as 80 percent of wellness programs included in the study didn't offer any bonus for employees who underwent cancer screenings, and 66 percent didn't even offer an incentive for smokers who managed to quit.

Instead of offering benefits employees are likely to see as valuable, some employers have chosen to implement penalties for employees who decide not to participate in their wellness programs, The New York Times reported. While the legality of this approach is currently under scrutiny in the courts, its existence alone shows companies are willing to stretch themselves when it comes to reducing their healthcare costs. 

Let us s​how you how you can save 15-30% on your company's total medical  costs. 

If your company decides to implement a wellness program of some kind, consider surveying your employees to see which behaviors and preventative measures they would like to see incentivized. While not every activity that receives a vote will necessarily lead to significant savings for your organization, showing your employees that your wellness program is as much about their health as it is about your savings opportunities could go a long way toward encouraging participation. 

Posted by Paula Turnquist

Paula Turnquist joined Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in 2013 as sales manager of Employer Products. She is responsible for the sales of products and services ranging from employer group health plans to Executive Health and Occupational Medicine programs. Paula is originally from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is a Nursing and Health Care Administration graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. She has worked in healthcare since 1976 serving major hospital systems, physician practices, venture capital start-ups and large insurance carriers.

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Topics: Wellness Program, healthcare costs

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