September 27, 2011

Healthy Pays Off for Everyone

By Paul Bieber

Like most of you reading this blog, I am a small business owner. I purchase health insurance for two full-time people, both over 60, both in general good health and no recurring illnesses. That’s the good news…I am healthy. The bad news I pay over $27,000 per year, plus a $4,000 deductible. And, I think this is a good rate. I switched companies this year and saved almost $6,000!

I have a good plan, with lots of coverages, including pharmacy and dental. But, the best thing my new carrier gave me was a wonderful chart on the benefits of keeping employees healthy. This is right from the carrier, based on solid, current data.

“Studies have shown that as employees become healthier, they also become more productive, and companies with highly effective health and productivity programs have cost increases that are:

  • 5 times lower for sick leave
  • 4.5 time lower for long-term disability
  • 4 times lower for short-term disability
  • 3.5 times lower for general health coverage

“In addition,these companies yield 20% more revenue per employee, demonstrate a 16% higher market value and deliver 57% higher shareholder returns.”(*)

You will still get increases year over year, but your increases will be a lot less if your employees stay healthy. Sounds so basic, you use less insurance, your costs are lower. But the key here is to keep employees healthy. Here are some tips:

  • Encourage all employees to get flu shots.
  • Most insurance policies pay for an annual physical without the deductible… check your policy and explain how important it is to go, even if you feel fine today.
  • Quit smoking, and help your employees quit.
  • Encourage healthy lifestyles–have fruit around the office for snacks, not candy
  • If you have room, put a treadmill in the office somewhere and encourage people to use it during the day. Don’t make people work through lunch; in good weather encourage walking teams.
  • When you go out for lunch, avoid fast food. It only takes five minutes longer to eat a salad than a couple of hot dogs.
  • Don’t encourage drinking of alcohol.
  • Eat your vegetables. (Sounds like your mother, doesn’t it?)
  • Quit smoking (It’s worth repeating)
  • Get mammograms and colonoscopies when you are scheduled. Don’t put this off.
  • Pay for a gym membership for all employees who have been with you for a year, provided they go at least twice a week. You can get this info from the gym.
  • And the toughest one of all, lose weight. Take it from one who knows.

Healthy employees result in lower turnover, which reduces your costs significantly, and improves productivity. You and the employee both win. I know you have heard this before, but maybe, this time you will do something about it.

(*) This data is from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.