Up until recently, the US government has not been involved in promoting corporate wellness. This is changing rapidly under the Obama administration as the government shifts to put a major focus on health and wellness and doing so at lightning speed. Recently the government has appointed corporate wellness leaders in many different branches of the government from the NIH, CDC and the USDA. All focused on promoting wellness in the workplace.
Even more important to the corporate wellness industry is recent attempts at legislation which would give incentives to employers who offer and implement worksite wellness programs. A recent version of the senate healthcare reform bill focused on companies creating a "culture" of health for employees. If the provisions introduced in the Senate is brought forth again and passes when Congress reconvenes this would create the long awaited tax incentives for employers who implement corporate wellness programs. The CDC could be assigned the role of evaluating employers corporate wellness programs to see their effectiveness, and this is causing a lot of controversy.
The legislation will order that "The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in coordination with relevant worksite health promotion organizations, state and local health departments, and academic institutions, shall conduct targeted educational campaigns to:
1) make employers, employers groups and other interested parties aware of the benefits of employer-based wellness,
2) establish a culture of health by emphasizing health promotion and disease prevention;
3) emphasize an integrated and coordinated approach to workplace wellness;
4) ensure informed decisions through high quality information to organizational leaders.
Some private companies who are leading the worksite wellness initiatives feel the CDC and the government should not be involved in wellness or that they shouldn't be the ones to set guidelines as to what is a qualifying wellness plan and what isn't. Another thing this new wellness legislation would do is to increase the insurance premium discount incentives employers can offer to employees for being involved in a wellness program from 20 percent to 30 percent.
No matter which side of the fence you sit on, either public or private, I think we can all agree that the federal government promoting corporate wellness, creating awareness of it, and providing research, surveys, and other insight that help us to better understand the need for improving our health as a nation a is a very positive step forward. Whether their involved in evaluating wellness programs to determine who qualifies for wellness incentives is a good thing, only time will tell.
About the Author
Jonathan Edelheit is Editor-In-Chief of the Corporate Wellness Magazine, the only Corporate Wellness Magazine in the industry focused on Health and Wellness in the workplace. Mr. Edelheit has been involved in US healthcare for almost ten years and ran a national healthcare administrator for almost seven years that administered healthcare plans for insurance companies, employers and governments.
While running the healthcare administrator Mr. Edelheit started to implement the first corporate wellness programs there through many tools such as health risk assessments, tele-medicine, e-health and many more options. Mr. Edelheit has been featured or mentioned in hundreds of media publications and in February 2008 was featured as a visionary in US healthcare by Executive Managed Healthcare Magazine.
Mr. Edelheit also organizes the Corporate Wellness Conference which is the only dedicated national conference on corporate health and wellness in the country and which targets employers, health insurance agents and large consulting firms. Mr. Edelheit is also an attorney.Jonathan Edelheit may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org