Monday, March 25, 2013

Bend the Trend…

Based on everything you may be hearing in print, broadcast and online media sources, I bet it sounds like a Herculean task to try to “Bend the Trend of Ballooning Healthcare Costs.”  And I’m pretty certain that to the hundreds of human resource professionals who attended the 2013 Philadelphia Society of Human Resource Professionals (PSHRM) Symposium, it feels like it at times.

Currently, most costs associated with workplace and workforce performance are growing at an unsustainable rate. The cost of benefits is typically the third largest expense in a company’s budget, behind salaries and real estate.  Reducing these costs has a direct impact on the company’s bottom line and its ability to be competitive in the marketplace.  But how can we bend the trend?  That was the question PSHRM asked. 

Joining me to discuss ways to reduce health care costs was Joseph Torella, President & National Practice Leader, Employee Benefits Division, HUB International; Rick DeOliveira, Director of US Benefits, GlaxoSmithKline; and panel moderator Michele Fletcher, Vice President, Human Resources, University of Pennsylvania Health System.
During our interactive open session, we heard from many in the audience who were concerned about the challenges ahead with the pending new healthcare legislation.  As the first line of defense for the 149 million people who currently get their health insurance and other benefits from their employer, this audience of human resource professionals had real-life questions.

Some of the questions asked included: What one or two things can I do now to bring healthcare costs down? Do Wellness Programs really work? Where is the best place to get information on exchanges? How do we, as HR practitioners, positively communicate wellness initiatives without appearing like “Big Brother”?

But the overall focus was on cost.  And for help controlling costs, we at UnitedHealthcare have found that Wellness Programs do indeed work.

UnitedHealthcare has seen increased interest in our wellness programs because more employers are recognizing that by supporting their employees' desire to improve their health, they can create a happier, healthier workforce while reducing costs for employees and the company. GlaxoSmithKline, whose director of U.S. benefits was also on the panel, continues to be a model for other health plan sponsors. They provide their employees with the necessary information, tools and incentives for ongoing health maintenance and improvement.

Because lifestyle choices and management of chronic conditions have had a major impact on rising costs, employers are recognizing the importance of consumer decision-making and are increasingly turning to innovative programs, such as the use of incentives, to engage their employees in making healthy lifestyle and medical care decisions. 

UnitedHealthcare works with employers and HR professionals every step of the way to help design, implement, and evaluate the appropriate incentive-based wellness program for their employees, and offer incentive-based wellness programs to employers of all sizes.

If you are a small business owner or HR practitioner looking for ways to implement a Wellness program visit  This website offers tools to help you get started bending the trend.

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