A Wellness Program Can’t Accomplish What a Good Health Plan Will
Wellness programs are now expected in the workplace, and more than 80% of large employers have implemented them. These programs include incentives like free gym memberships, smoking cessation plans and team wellness challenges. Not only are they seen as a cornerstone of healthy workplace culture, but they’re also viewed as a way to drive down healthcare costs. There’s a theory behind this: by promoting wellness, an employer’s population has greater potential to become healthier and have less expensive claims.
In the wake of the pandemic, there’s been an even higher demand on employers for these types of programs, and 92% of employers are integrating mental health initiatives as well. While it’s hard to argue the merit these programs bring to corporate culture, many employers are scrutinizing their investments and looking for new levers to pull that lower their healthcare costs.
A RAND study that included 600,000 employees and seven employers showed wellness programs had little, if any, effect on healthcare costs. Another study found that after 18 months in a wellness program, there were “no significant effects on clinical measures of health, healthcare spending and utilization, or employment outcomes.” In short, employers spend a lot on these wellness programs – on top of surging health insurance rates – and see an astonishingly low ROI of 3-to-1.
While well-intentioned and good for company morale, research shows workplace wellness initiatives alone won’t drive down healthcare costs. At Gravie, we’ve looked within the health plan itself to understand how individuals engage with the healthcare system and thus infuse more common-sense plan design to promote engagement and support better outcomes.
Our Comfort® plan provides comprehensive coverage on 85% of the most common healthcare services – benefits that are meant to be used, not avoided because of hidden costs and complicated deductibles. We’re embracing individuals’ whole health needs through digital tools that meet members where they’re at, concierge support that helps them navigate the healthcare maze and a zero-interest payment solution for any out-of-pocket expenses that do arise.
Not only is Comfort helping employees experience better health outcomes, but it’s also driving down costs. Employees on the Comfort plan spend 20% less on claims than traditional copay and HSA plan members per year. Gravie’s employer clients save an average of 15% in total premium costs when switching to Gravie, with single-digit annual renewal rates well below the national average.
When we remove barriers to healthcare – financial or otherwise – and focus on improving accessibility and affordability of excellent care, employers can have a more direct impact on employee wellbeing, especially as it relates to the major cost drivers. And employers are seeing the difference. The Comfort plan retention rate is 93%, compared to an industry average of 66-75%.
“Each year, more and more employees move toward our Comfort product because it provides peace of mind,” said an HR director and Gravie customer.
Corporate wellness programs are great for supporting a healthy workplace culture, but employers can’t rely on them alone to drive down health plan costs. Only a health plan with strong coverage and fewer barriers to access care can do that. Contact us to learn more.