Healthy Employees, Healthy Business: Health in the Workplace
A company can only do as well as its employees. There are many factors that affect the output of any given employee, and one of the most important of these is physical health. Without physical well-being, an employee will not perform to his or her full potential, and employers are becoming increasingly responsible for this aspect of performance in their businesses. Providing good medical insurance and adequate time off for employees in medical crisis are leading issues when it comes to how health can affect the workplace positively or negatively.
One of the most important parts of ensuring good health, and thus good performance, in the workplace is to provide health insurance. There are several ways a company might provide this insurance, most by offering enrollment in a company sponsored plan. Many health policy researchers have argued that increased health insurance plan choice will enhance the efficiency of health care markets by improving competition. However, relatively little is known about the prevalence of choice in the workplace or its effects on access to and satisfaction with coverage. The availability of health insurance plan choice in the U.S. workplace determines the extent to which individual workers have access to additional health insurance plans indirectly through a family member's (usually a spouse) job. Research shows that many workers do not have a choice of health plans and that having a choice of health plans is associated with higher satisfaction and greater access to health care. While accounting for spousal and other family coverage increases the number of workers with plan choice, there are a sizable proportion of workers who lack health insurance. Additionally, health insurance plan choice appears to be correlated with worker, employment, and geographic characteristics. Large number of employees, however, are offered only one health plan from their employer and those without choice are less satisfied with their health insurance coverage and are less likely to have access to care. The U.S. market as well as the U.S. workers as a whole would be largely improved if all employees had a choice of health plans. If this is true, there is considerable room for improvement since many employees lack such choice. This finding is vitally important to those concerned with the efficiency of the American workplace. Though an employee may have health insurance, in order to keep costs down, they must keep un relatively good health. In light of this, many employers are taking a preventative approach to health in their workplaces. Workplace wellness programs--which focus on illness prevention and chronic disease management through self-maintenance--are one key ingredient for healthcare cost control. Healthier employees tend to be happier, more motivated and more focused, which benefit their employers through reduced healthcare-related expenditures, improved productivity, lowered absenteeism and fewer on-the-job accidents. These strong internal and external influences will affect the wellness market by giving credence to the legal issues in article and by stressing the judicious use of incentives and disincentives. The US Dept. of Health and Human Services reported that a Johnson and Johnson’s wellness program yielded an estimated savings of at least $1.9 million through decreased medical costs, reduced sick leave, and increased productivity; city employees insured by the City of Mesa, Arizona revealed a significantly greater decrease in health care costs of employees who participated in a mobile worksite health promotion program, as opposed to employees not participating. Health care costs decreased 16%, resulting in a $3.6 savings for every dollar spent on health promotion services; and (c) the return on investment enjoyed by five large companies, as a result of their health promotion and disease prevention activities,...
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