Business of Well-being

What Insurers Want You to Know About Wellness Plans

When it comes to the successful implementation of a wellness program, being aware of current industry trends is crucial. In regards to your health insurance provider, a recent report by international health insurance broker Pacific Prime set out to highlight trends in the industry as identified by insurers.

So what do insurers what you to know? Here are four wellness related trends identified by insurers that could help you improve the efficiency/success rate of your wellness plans.

The Definition of Wellness Plans Is Wide and Changing

In countries like the U.S. and Canada, wellness plans have been commonplace for many years now, but in other countries in Asia and Africa, wellness plans are just now becoming popular. This is important to know, especially if you plan on opening offices in other countries where you may have to work harder to implement a successful wellness plan.

Beyond that, insurers noted that wellness is something many companies are struggling to define. In the report, Bupa Global's Robert Lang commented, "Wellness is an interesting term and can mean a lot of different things to different employers. There is no question however, that it is being demanded. What's interesting is the level of understanding between different employers."

Probably the most important thing to take from this is that when your team sets out to implement a wellness program, it would be a great idea to sit down together to define what exactly it means to you and your company. One other important thing to be aware of here is that wellness plans will be different for each company - so what works for one company, or even one region, might not work in other areas.

An Increase in Demand For Health Checkups

While there are a seemingly limitless number of elements you can include in a wellness plan, the most successful plans are the ones that your employees use. In the report, one of the most commonly requested wellness elements the insurers found was for health checkups. On health checkups, Lang said, "We are seeing a lot of resonance in our corporate, and certainly individual, schemes around health checks. This is something that people feel to be a tangible benefit. 'Ok I paid my premiums, and didn't get sick, but I did get a health check. Now I feel more informed'."

So, should you automatically add a health checkup to your wellness plan? Honestly, it depends on your employees and the people who will actually be using the plan. If they all indicate that they don't want one, then it would make sense not to offer one. That said, the insurers did note that they are seeing increased demand for it so it is highly likely that they may add health checks as a core benefit to the group and even individual plans.

If this is the case, ensuring your staff knows that they are available and included in their coverage could help increase the chances of them actually using it. On the other hand, if your insurer already offers health checkups and your employees are not using them, you could consider talking with your insurer to remove the benefit and possibly replace it with a benefit your employees might actually use.

An Increase in Demand for Preventative Health Programs

In the report, Steve Clement from Aetna International highlighted another trend, "Both members and group administrators are realizing the wellness and financial perks offered by preventative health programs and we are seeing an increased demand for plans featuring those types of benefits."

Preventative health programs are designed to help stop or prevent diseases before they happen. Some examples of these implemented in wellness programs include health screenings, education sessions where the staff is educated on proper hygiene to reduce the spread of communicable diseases, programs that help at-risk employees reduce their chances of developing a cardiovascular disease or diabetes, etc.

As with other forms of wellness initiatives, the implementation of preventative health programs will be different for each company and location. For optimal success, work with all stakeholders related to the wellness program to identify the most useful programs for your employees.

What Companies with Already Implemented Health Plans are Demanding

Arguably, one of the more interesting things about wellness plans is that what is working now, this year, might not be what your employees want or need in the future. This means that many wellness plans are a constantly evolving thing that is never actually 'complete'.

So, what have insurers seen in terms of companies with already implemented wellness plans? Steve Conway from Allianz Worldwide Care noted, "There's more demand on refining the benefits. This is seen particularly on takeover accounts where we have to match the current benefit they have."

He continued with an example where a client has asked Allianz to include nutritional wellness under their wellness coverage. He also noted that "We're not getting a quantum conversation, clients are not saying we want X or Y or Z dollars for this benefit. What we're starting to get is sort of more refinement to the benefit itself."

This could indicate that the most successful plans are not oriented on dollar-related benefits, rather providing quality benefits to their employees and are plans where management teams work to consistently improve and tweak benefits so they meet the needs and requirements of both the company and employees.

About the Author

Pacific Prime is a leading international insurance broker helping over 120,000 expat clients around the world. Their expert advisors come with 15 years' experience in providing the right international health solutions for the best price, and their partners include many of the world's major insurance brands.

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