Wellness programs: Corporate wellness efforts have been around for a long time but they've recently entered the Internet age. For example, companies such as 3Com, Chevron, and General Mills utilize an online health management program developed by WellMed to give employees immediate access to personalized health information. Giving employees access to health resources via home or work is another way that companies are encouraging employees to take responsibility for their own health management.
Disease management: Employers that contract with disease-management programs such as those offered by Milwaukee-based Innovative Resource Group are able to identify and manage the care of employees with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes. This helps to avoid the high costs associated with lost productivity and unmanaged medical conditions.
Absence management: Many companies are realizing that the cost of health insurance is only one piece of the puzzle. Such things as lost productivity and worker absences contribute to the hidden costs of health care. For this reason, more employers are starting to recognize that absences have to be managed holistically so that when employees are absent, their return to work is managed more aggressively.
On-site primary care: Cleveland-based Whole Health Management, which provides on-site medical and fitness centers, recently started offering clients such as American Airlines on-site primary-care services. Geared to self-insured employers with at least 2,000 workers at a site, on-site primary care enables employees to obtain such things as physical exams and preventive health-care screenings without leaving the work site. According to Whole Health's calculations, employers receive a $5 return for every $1 spent.
Eliminating cost-inefficient plans: Companies are taking a closer look at health plans they currently offer and, by reviewing quality and financial factors, are beginning to eliminate those that aren't cost-effective.
Moving toward PPO: According to Hewitt Associates, employers are continuing to transition from point-of-service plans to preferred provider organizations. PPOs offer lower administrative fees, competitive discounts, and greater freedom for employees, and can be relatively cost-neutral to organizations.
Workforce, February 2002, p. 30 -- Subscribe Now!