As an employer, you play a key role when it comes to promoting the health and wellness of your employees. And that starts with the benefits you offer. Some studies point out that nearly 50% of adults with health coverage receive it through employer-sponsored plans.
Giving workers the type of coverage they want can be a major part of your company’s recruiting and retention efforts. Your benefits program sends a message that you’re prepared to support your people when they’re sick, or if they’re dealing with a major health issue.
In an effort to provide even more options, some organizations are adding wellness programs to their plan design.
Exploring a Wellness Program
Plenty of plan designs include wellness options. They can help make a positive impact across your employee population, and often include things like:
Reduced costs or reimbursements for gym memberships, yoga, and fitness training
- Incentives for tracking steps, or starting a nutrition plan
- Access to educational information that supports making healthier lifestyle choices
However, there are some key differences between offering wellness options within your larger benefits plan, and adding a full-fledged wellness program as a stand-alone plan. We’ll explore some of distinctions below.
Adding wellness options to your employer-sponsored health care plan can be a great way to help employees engage with their benefits all year. Using a cloud-based benefits administration tool like BeneTrac can also help employees get more out of the benefits they have. Learn more.
Different Approaches to Offering Wellness Options
In the current benefits climate, employer-sponsored wellness programs are becoming more common. Some employers see wellness programs as being the key to creating a healthier workforce, cutting down on unscheduled absences due to illnesses, and even increasing productivity.
The difference between offering wellness options within your current plan, and offering a stand-alone wellness program, is more than just semantics.
One way to determine if your wellness program can stand as a group health plan is if it provides medical care, defined as paying amounts for the following:
- Diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
- The purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body
- Transportation for and/or essential to medical care
- Insurance covering medical care
If you want to offer a stand-alone wellness program, you must also consider compliance obligations and HIPPA non-discrimination requirements, including but not limited to:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA)
Therefore, if you’re considering adding wellness options to your current plan, or adding a stand-alone wellness program, here are a few key steps to help inform your decision:
1. Consider different options with the help of your employees
As you discuss plan designs, and gather insight from your employee population, you might decide that a stand-alone wellness program is the way to go.
In so doing, keep in mind that your wellness program must comply with legal requirements applicable to group health plans under the Group Health Plan Mandates, which include ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, the ACA, GINA, and the ADA.
Conversely, if you decide that adding wellness options to your existing plan is the better option, then your wellness options can piggyback the medical plan’s compliance with the Group Health Plan Mandates.
2. Keep Group Health Plan Mandates in mind, no matter what choice you make
Even if you decide to add wellness options to your existing plan, they might still have to comply with the Group Health Plan Mandates.
- Typically, wellness options that are part of a larger group health plan can rely on the plan’s compliance with the Group Health Plan Mandates.
- However, as the employer or plan sponsor, you must ensure compliance with legal requirements that apply specifically to wellness programs.
3. Consider personalized and on-site wellness options
While group wellness programs might help create a culture of health, not all employees will be interested. That’s especially true if the wellness options don’t actually help them make relevant changes in their lives.
- A one-size-fits-all might actually turn some of your employees off from participating.
- For instance, various fitness and nutrition challenges, or a smoking cessation program, might not align with the actual needs of your employee population.
- If employees receive health and wellness tips that aren’t relevant to them, it can actually make them feel like they’re wasting their time, and not getting anything out of their health insurance.
Instead of a broad, company-wide initiative, you might consider more individualized wellness programming.
- More personalized health information and recommendations might be the key to motivating healthy behavior change.
- A personalized approach could include more direct interaction with experts in a variety of fields, including nutrition, weight training, mobility and more.
Personalization also speaks to convenience, which is important if you want employees to stay engaged over the long run. Another aspect of personalization and convenience includes on-site wellness support.
- Depending on the size of your workplace, it might be possible to convert an under-utilized area into an on-site gym, wellness area, or fitness room where employees can meet with trainers and experts.
No matter what type of wellness options you offer, remember that communication is key when it comes to encouraging employees to buy in. Align wellness options with what your employees want, then make it easy for them to stay informed and engaged.
As your go-to benefits administration software, BeneTrac can help enhance the way your employees engage with your benefits, while helping save time for your HR and benefits administration teams. Contact a BeneTrac representative, and find out how we can help support your efforts.