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Outcome-based Wellness Programs Result In Healthier Employees And A Healthier Bottom Line

In this final installment in an ongoing wellness series, Annette Dowdle, RHU, offers tips on how to build a better wellness strategy. Annette is Senior Vice President of HUB International Gulf South, a member of the HUB National Employee Benefits Executive Team and a Certified Corporate Wellness Coach (CCWC). Learn more about Annette at

Employers utilize a variety of different wellness approaches to increase awareness and engagement among employees. Because we advise clients in a wide range of industries and with different workforce demographics, HUB benefits advisors are well-versed in the nuances that come into play when tailoring wellness initiatives. However, we have learned firsthand that the most successful wellness programs - those that create employee engagement and accountability -- have several characteristics in common:

  • Programs are implemented in a methodical and strategic way over a three to five year timeframe
  • Employers build upon their efforts year over year and recognize that it takes time and commitment to build a wellness culture.
  • Outcomes-based programs deliver the best results over time.

Outcomes-based wellness programs are more complex than other wellness initiatives and require the following:

  • Claims data to identify lifestyle-related health issues within your employee population;
  • Targeted initiatives to address specific health issues, which could range from chronic disease to mental health;
  • Incentives (and penalties) that hold employees accountable for their health and the health care decisions they make. 

Outcomes-based programs typically include the following components:

  • Incentive-based biometric screenings
  • Incentive-based Health Risk Assessment
  • Benefit-based incentive programs
  • Integrated disease management programs
  • Comprehensive Employee Assistance Program

Data from both biometric and health risk assessments are combined to create a score that can be used to identify a desirable measurement of wellness.  Employees who achieve a certain score receive an incentive in the form of a reduced deductible or additional HSA funding, while employees who fall below the baseline score are offered health coaching and/or targeted programs to help improve their score. It is permissible to shift 20% of total medical premium to employees who do not meet wellness standards after undergoing a wellness assessment. Cost shifting can be increased to 30% in 2014.

The most successful outcomes-based wellness programs are customized to fit the employer's needs, employees' interest and readiness to change.  While the expense associated with these programs is higher than other wellness programs, the impact is much greater.  

Unlike other wellness programs, outcomes-based programs can do more than just manage medical plan costs. These programs also are designed to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism as well as positively impact disability and workers' compensation claims.

Talk to your HUB benefits advisor about how you can take your wellness program to the next level.  A well planned and supported program can result in a more engaged and productive employee and a healthier bottom line for your company.