Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cost of Quality for Individual Wellness

In our company, we've made the push for wellness, rewarding results and not just participation. No more money back, just for signing in at the fitness center but not actually working out. We want to see results. It's the only way to keep claims down, and therefore keep the costs down.

Awhile ago, we talked to several insurance brokers about how they thought we should control our health insurance costs. Most talked about cost-shifting: shift more from the corporation to the employees. One talked about prevention. That appealed to us. In manufacturing, we know the cost of preventing mistakes is a lot less than the cost of finding, returning and fixing mistakes. We know the cost of wellness (i.e. postponing chronic conditions) is a lot less than the cost of controlling chronic conditions.

A friend asked me why we bother with wellness when the costs for a chronic condition are the same now as they would be in 30 years. True, I replied, the costs of treatment are the same. However, if I can postpone diabetes or cancer or heart disease for 30 years, I've saved 30 years of prescriptions and hospital care. That's a lot of moolah!

Granted, it's an uphill battle to convince people (especially twenty-somethings) to think long-term about their health, and take steps now to prevent some event that may or may not happen. It's an uphill battle to convince people with a problem to change; 60-90% of heart disease patients have not changed their lifestyle, the lifestyle that got them into the mess in the first place!

It's the only way though. We've got to keep pushing people to be healthier: stop smoking, lose weight, eat better, exercise more. We all need to control the blood pressure, the BMI (body mass index) and the cholesterol. We'll enjoy life more, be more productive. Our families will thank us and our companies will thank us. Our costs will come down, our claims will be down, our insurance premiums will be down, our company's expenses will be down. It's a win-win-win!

Check out Dr. Edington's book, "Zero Trends"!

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