First few Article Sentences
The recent Healthcare Reform legislation removed many of the mechanisms health plans had in place to control healthcare costs. Unless new payment mechanisms to effect quality and cost are created, the legislation leaves group health plans with few options to impact utilization of services at the point they are needed and rendered. Plans that are serious about controlling costs in this environment must address the root cause of the majority of healthcare expense: poor lifestyle habits that lead to costly chronic conditions. The best way to address poor lifestyle habits is to implement a well-structured wellness program.
Wellness programs – including those to prevent and manage chronic conditions – have not been shown to be universally effective. In fact, research shows they are generally not successful unless tied to a strong communication campaign as well as to financial incentives to entice participation. In Healthcare Management Administrators’ (HMA) experience, plans that implement a health risk assessment or coaching program without incentives see 0-10% participation while those that implement incentives of $200 or more can see participation as high as 80%.