Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wellness Programs Really Aren't Saving You Any Money

There is a growing body of research surfacing that details why wellness programs don't save employers money.  In a nutshell:    
  • The more recent studies are from disinterested parties who do not profit from selling you wellness.   
  • Wellness may work a little if you are self-funded (generally 500+ employees) and are willing to put strict penalties in place to penalize those who are not healthy.  However this has two other realities associated:   
    • The "savings" probably really results from just dissuading unhealthy folks from working for you and 
    • This creates an additional cost to you for compliance as it increases the risk of health-discrimination suits.  
  • Employees generally don't stay with an employer long enough for these long-term changes to pay off.  Think of smoking cessation, for example.  You are, in effect, working to prevent lung cancer many years down the road.   
  • Lastly, the loss of goodwill with employees as they view employers meddling in their personal lives and eating habits also has negatively associated soft costs.    
For two different summaries released just this week, see here and here from the Harvard Bus. Review and Washington Post.