The question today is not whether healthier employees are more productive and spend less on health care. The question today is how do we motivate employees and their dependents to change? Employees are not afraid of getting healthy but they are very afraid of losing their health care. With Health Reform, everyone has heard that coverage is guaranteed.
Health, however, is not. And the guarantee of coverage may actually do more to encourage complacency than anything else. So, motivating employees to lead healthier lives will have to be done elsewhere and one section of the new health law does provide incentive to businesses to begin the process of motivating employees to change through premium differentials. Meet Section 2705 of the Public Health Service Act and learn how help is on the way!
- Section 2705 is your new ally in the effort to change the culture of your company or organization to health.
- Section 2705 has the potential to push participation in your workplace health promotion programs to close to 100%!
- Section 2705 also insures that there will be no discrimination against anyone on the basis of their health status, medical conditions, past claims or medical history.
Section 2705 begins with the guideline that discrimination in health care benefits is no longer allowed, but it does not end there. In basic terms, it codifies in statute the existing regulation that allows employers to charge a differential premium based on employees meeting health standards, such as not smoking, reaching recommended weight levels, having normal biometrics or passing a fitness test.
No longer is the argument that "regulations" might change a viable one for employers who were unsure whether to incorporate financial incentives for maintaining health into their health care plans.
Section 2705 makes it official that offering a contribution for health benefits differential is permissible AND advisable and by 2014, the maximum differential allowed by law will increase from 20% to 30% in 2014 with the possibility of it going to 50%!
So what is Your "mindset" about taking action based on Section 2705?
Mathew Syed, in his book about high achievers, called Bounce, cites research by Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, that there a two types of mindsets: Fixed mindsets and Growth mindsets. A person with a "fixed mindset" believes that personal qualities, such as intelligence, personality and character, are set in stone. The "growth mindset" individual believes that those same qualities are far from static and can be improved through effort and experience.
Do you believe the wellbeing of your employee can improve with some effort and experience? Syed, a world champion table tennis player, outlines studies that support the premise that it is purposeful practice, and not talent, which leads to excellence. Optimal health and wellbeing won't come to your company any easier than it comes to a top athlete without purposeful practice.
Hours of practice, intentional change, and a mindset of wanting to improve and grow is imperative. And that "purposeful practice" is doing the things that you do not do well instead of trying to improve the skill areas in which you already excel." Excellence is about stepping outside the comfort zone, training with a spirit of endeavor, and accepting the inevitability of trials and tribulations," Syed explains.
Once we learn a skill, we cruise along in a state of "automaticity," psychologists say. Don't practice what you already know and "cruise" along. Become a world-class company the same way a world-class athlete strives to the top!
Actions to Consider Taking:
1. Use 2705 to provide a financial incentive for employees and, eventually, their spouse dependents, inspiring them to take action to maintain and improve their health. Dr. Dee Edington, the industry's top health management researcher, cites as one of his five pillars of Zero Trends the goal to develop all employees into becoming "self-leaders" for their health. Leadership is about maintaining momentum and when you provide financial incentives, such as offering savings options on employee contributions for their health insurance, you help them to take action and begin building momentum. THEY BEGIN TO ENGAGE IN THE PROCESS OF TAKING CARE OF THEIR OWN HEALTH.
With Section 2705 you can encourage your employees to take purposeful steps toward practices that will improve their health. Begin to change your company culture one health incentive at a time; begin to take advantage of the 20% differential by offering it first to those employees who should be rewarded for taking good care of themselves. Encourage others by rewarding the ones who already live the healthiest lives.
2. Once you achieve a high level of participation from your employees, DON'T STOP! Although participation in wellness programs is the first step, eventually, I believe you should then reward achievement. Encourage employees to strive for world class results, such as achieving and maintaining established healthy measures for body mass index, waist circumference, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Once an athlete learns the basics, it's boring, unless there is an outlet for measuring improvement. Like giving someone a sales goal, try to inspire them toward higher fitness and health levels through additional incentives.
The ultimate goal is higher productivity and lower health care costs. AND IT'S ATTAINABLE. Fix your mind on change and begin to grow your productivity with healthier employees.
About the Author:
Jack Bastable, National Practice Leader Health & Productivity Management CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc. Jack has 30 years of experience staging successful workplace initiatives to increase the value of human capital for large and small companies and organizations in various industries including, manufacturing, technologies, health care, education, municipalities and professional services.
For the past 17 years, as an employee benefits consultant with CBIZ, a national business services firm, Jack has developed several award winning comprehensive Health and Productivity Management (HPM) strategies for employers that integrate employee health benefits plans and organizational development initiatives that results in lower costs trends, highly engaged workforces workplace cultures of health.
Jack's consulting practice includes working with insurance companies, plan administrators and health care providers to collaborate with them, on behalf of clients, to increase the value of the health management services they provide. In 1998, Jack led the establishment of the first Regional Alliance for the Institute for Health and Productivity Management in Kansas City, Missouri with the founding members of American Century Investments, Hallmark Cards, Sprint, Saint Luke's Health System, Butler Manufacturing Company and CBIZ.
Jack serves as the Director of Education for Value Based Health with the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) to advance IHPM's global mission to demonstrate the relationship between employee health and organizational performance. Jack's work includes facilitation in the sharing and documenting best practices of IHPM employer members who share a common commitment to Value-Based approach to health benefits.
Jack is a sought after speaker at national and regional benefits and human resources conferences, has authored several articles on wellness and health and productivity management and is frequently quoted subject matter expert for various publications. Jack began his interest in health and productivity during his collegiate and professional athletic career that included six years as a professional baseball player studying the relationship between various conditioning regimes and athletic performance.
Jack Bastable, National Practice Leader
Employee Health and Productivity
CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc.