While wellness programs have increased in popularity, according to the 2014 UBA Health Plan Survey, actual wellness program adoption has been in a holding pattern. As one might expect, the highest percentage (58.8%) of plans offering wellness benefits came from employers with 1,000 or more employees and the lowest percentage (8%) of plans offering wellness benefits came from employers with fewer than 25 employees. On average, wellness programs are down slightly by 1.3%. It’s no wonder given all the pending litigation and regulation surrounding these programs, including the fact that the health of an employee population is no longer a rating factor for smaller employers.
On the other hand, corporate wellness programs do have many positives. From a global perspective, wellness programs combat the rising costs of health care. Employers also benefit from wellness programs by creating healthier workforces. Healthier employees are more productive and have less absenteeism. Moreover, employees who participate in wellness programs enjoy the extrinsic reward provided by their employer (or the spouse’s employer), and they also realize the intrinsic value of changing their lives through healthier living. Regardless of the motive and intent of employers who establish corporate wellness programs, they just may find themselves in hot water – I mean, court – with the EEOC or on the other side of the aisle from a grieved employee.
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