by PHYLLIS SNODGRASS
What better time to take control of our health than springtime? Many of us pledged to do just that in 2008, but time has now passed and we are on track? In an effort to boost productivity and control employee health care costs, employers can offer added incentives to help their employees keep this important New Year’s Resolution.
Many area employers already offer incentives to encourage employees to participate in Preventative Healthcare programs such as weight loss and heart disease prevention. These benefits have proven to be excellent tools to not only improve worker’s health and productivity, but also reduce health care expenses for employers. In fact, it has been estimated that every dollar invested in worksite health promotion yields an estimated $3.50 to nearly $6 in savings through reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and decreased healthcare related costs.
The rising cost of health care and the increasing number of families in our region without health insurance continues to be one of the biggest issues facing us today. However, many businesses have discovered that wellness and prevention programs are extremely effective in controlling health care costs, because as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) points out, chronic diseases are among the most costly, prevalent and preventable of all health problems.
For example, heart disease, which in Texas is the leading cause of death, can actually be prevented and controlled through lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as quitting smoking, improving nutrition and increasing physical activity. A report issued by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, revealed that obesity cost Texas businesses about $3.3 billion in 2005 and could cost Texas business as much as $15.8 billion each year by 2025. Smoking-related diseases cost Texas companies and government more than $4.5 billion in direct medical costs and $5.5 billion in lost productivity each year according to the CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Employees have a lot to gain by taking advantage of wellness and prevention benefits. By offering wellness and prevention benefits, businesses can increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and decrease health care costs and together we can keep that New Year’s Resolution for 2008: to live healthier lifestyles!
Look at offering wellness incentives to your employees. Start a walking program. Encourage healthy snacks in your kitchen. It all adds up…a solid investment that will pay back dividends to your bottom line. The San Marcos Chamber of Commerce is focused on business. Check us out on the web at www.sanmarcostexas.com.
PHYLLIS SNODGRASS is the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer.