Last Thursday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, signed the Healthy Jobs Act, putting in place state funding for worksite wellness program grants. The Healthy Jobs Act is an example of bi-partisan legislation aimed at promoting private sector employee wellness. The bill provides grant money “equal to 30 percent of the amount that an employer pays in the taxable year to provide a workplace wellness program,” and businesses with 50 or fewer employees that implement a wellness program are eligible.
With the Healthy Jobs Act, Wisconsin joins Wellable’s home state of Massachusetts, which previously enacted similar legislation in the form of a tax credit, in being leaders in state-sponsored wellness subsidies. As part of the recent healthcare reform legislation, the federal government has set aside $200 million in grant money that the Department of Health and Human Services can provide to small businesses to cover the costs of a wellness program. State and federal involvement in encouraging wellness highlights the growing importance wellness plays in cost containment of healthcare expenses and improvement of employee satisfaction.
Financial support for employee wellness is helpful, particularly for small business that often lack the resources needed to implement a wellness program, but unfortunately, small businesses struggle with more than just financial constraints. Small businesses often lack human capital resources to manage a wellness program. Some employers do not have the personnel needed to implement, promote, and support a successful wellness program, and governments (state or Federal) cannot fully alleviate this burden. To complicate matters, traditional wellness vendors tend to ignore small employers because their solutions require more than just a hefty financial commitment.
At Wellable, we applaud the efforts of governments to promote wellness, but we realize it is incumbent upon the private sector to deliver solutions to all areas of the market. Wellable provides a resource light wellness solution that addresses the needs of employers of all sizes, including small employers with limited budgets and personnel. In conjunction with government support and promotion, we hope to offer the benefits of wellness to all employees.
P.S. A few months ago we noticed a particularly high level of wellness related Google searches in Wisconsin – could the recent wellness grant legislation be the cause?