As a result of the Affordable Care Act, each state is required to have an insurance exchange or marketplace where individuals can purchase health insurance. The rise of individual health insurance marketplaces presents an opportunity for insurers to capture a new market of previously uninsured individuals.
With many insurers offering similar products on the insurance exchange, finding ways to differentiate from competitors will be essential. Insurers will need to think beyond price and provider networks and find creative and innovative ways to differentiate and gain market share.
Wellness is a tool insurers can use to capture market share and differentiate from other competitors in the marketplace. A properly designed wellness program encourages and rewards healthy behavior while simultaneously lowering health care costs – a win for consumers and a win for insurers.
Below are a few ways that an insurer can benefit from including an innovative mobile wellness program as a health plan feature:
A wellness offering demonstrates a health plan’s alignment with member health. Members will appreciate the opportunity to receive rewards for being healthy.
Big Data Care Management
Health insurers can leverage wellness data to provide real-time care management analytics to help manage members’ health and offer more robust, timely, and accurate services.
Lower Medical Expense For Health Plans and Consumers
Wellness programs can help improve the health of plan members by encouraging and rewarding members to track healthy activities through mobile apps. Health plans benefit from healthy members who are less expensive to insure.
Attract The Elusive Young Adult Population
Insurers have had difficulty enticing young adults to purchase insurance on the individual market. An innovative wellness program that leverages mobile smartphone technology will particularly resonate with a younger population.
Monday: You run 3 miles during lunch
Tuesday: You bike 2 miles to work instead of taking the bus
Wednesday: You read an article about the benefits of sleep
Thursday: You go to bed an hour earlier than normal
Friday: You opt for a spinach salad instead of a hamburger for lunch
Saturday: You refill your blood pressure medication at CVS
Sunday: You use coupons to buy locally grown avocados at Whole Foods
Your life is full of fragmented health and wellness decisions and activities. Connecting these activities and making sense of them is a challenge. With the help of innovative new technology, connecting these fragments in a meaningful way is now possible.
Wellable has built a technology platform that allows users to seamlessly connect fragmented health and wellness activities, decisions, and behaviors.
We call this an individual health and wellness ecosystem.Through a platform that integrates with mobile apps, users can engage in, track, and improve health and wellness behavior across multiple apps. Each user has a unique mobile wellness experience that is customized based on the user’s health and wellness needs and behaviors.
Ask us how Wellable can help build a health and wellness ecosystem for your employees.
Over 3.7 billion prescriptions are filled annually at US pharmacies. Not included in this number are fresh produce prescriptions. Yes, doctors are prescribing fresh produce.
Last week, New York City officials debuted a fresh produce prescription program at two city hospitals, Lincoln Medical Center and Harlem Hospital. The goal of the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) is to help battle obesity and encourage at-risk populations to eat additional servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The produce prescription comes in the form of a subsidy. A doctor provides each participating family member with a daily $1 subsidy that can be redeemed for fresh fruit and vegetables at participating farmers markets.
According to NY Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley, the prescription program is “probably going to prevent an awful lot of disease in the long term than the medicines we tend to write prescriptions for.”
The Department of Agriculture is also exploring healthy eating programs. The Department recently published the results of a study where they used financial incentives to encourage food stamp recipients to eat healthy. The study found that “people on food stamps who received such incentives ate 25 percent more produce than [those] who did not.”
As with other health and wellness trends, prescribing produce will go mobile. Though the concept is still relatively new, the days of handing out $1 food prescriptions are already numbered. Be on the lookout for the emergence of mobile wellness apps to manage the process of prescribing healthy eating.
For more on NYC’s experiment with fruit and vegetable prescriptions: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/doctors-prescribe-fruits-vegetables-fight-obesity-article-1.1407115#ixzz2aaYQwi2p
For more on the Department of Agriculture’s study: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/24/usa-health-foodstamps-idUSL1N0FU1AK20130724
How many times did you check your smartphone today?
A 2011 study shows that on average, users check their smartphones 34 times a day. An updated study published in 2013 showed this number has now risen to an astonishing 150 times a day for the average user.
We live in a society of 24/7 accessibility. Access to emails from a manager, tweets from a high school classmate, and celebrity fashion updates are all accessible with the touch of a finger, from anywhere in the world, day or night.
Now, corporate wellness is just as accessible. Mobile wellness companies provide employers with the tools to administer a corporate wellness program using smartphone technology. Mobile wellness puts the power of wellness at each employee’s fingertips. Employees have greater flexibility to choose when and how to engage in wellness. Mobile wellness is a corporate wellness program that doesn’t have to stay in the office.
Give your employees greater accessibility and freedom to customize an individual wellness solution using mobile technology and the result will be higher engagement and more effective healthy behavior change.
If the average smartphone user interacts with a smartphone 150 times a day, why not make a handful of those interactions wellness related…?
For more on smartphone use statistics: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/28/ep.smartphone.obsessed.cohen/index.html
According to a new IHS Electronics and Media report, sports and fitness mobile app installations are expected to grow to 248 million in 2017, a 60% increase from 2012. Assuming this growth occurs, there will be a number of important consequences. Here are a few:
Fitness Device and Accessory Market Growth: Some fitness apps require or can be enhanced by the use of a physical device or accessory. As app installations increase, so will the demand for devices that facilitate or complement the app use. A few leaders such as Fitbit or Jawbone have emerged, but a laundry list of competitors will enter the expanding market.
Massive Opportunity for Corporate Wellness Companies: Mobile corporate wellness programs will see significant growth. App technology improvements, increasing smartphone adoption, and growth of fitness app downloads will create the perfect storm for mobile wellness companies. Consumer adoption will lead to enterprise adoption. Corporate wellness programs that were once capital intensive and relied on bricks and mortar resources will leverage mobile technology to provide wellness to employees at a fraction of the cost.
Difficulty Navigating the App Market: High download growth will incentivize development of more apps. A greater volume of sports and fitness apps means a greater number of quality apps, but also a larger number of duds. It will become increasingly challenging for users to navigate the app market and find the best apps. A few organizations have emerged to provide a stamp of approval for clinical apps, but fitness apps do not benefit from a similar certification process. Two groups will help curate the non-clinical health and wellness app market. Technology, health, and wellness media outlets will aid the consumer market and wellness companies will help the enterprise market navigate the abundance of mobile apps.
Fewer Excuses: I say this with some hesitation, but hopefully, there will be fewer excuses for not engaging in healthy activity. Mobile app technology will make being health easier, cheaper, and more accessible.
For more on IHS Electronics and Media’s study: http://mobihealthnews.com/23649/fitness-app-installs-to-grow-60-percent-by-2017/
Administering a wellness program to a multi-office corporation can be challenging. Different offices may have different health and wellness needs. Some offices are larger and have plentiful resources, while other small satellite offices may be more limited.
Inevitably, there will be different resources available at different offices. While it may be affordable to have an onsite gym and dietician at the corporate headquarters in New York, it’s unlikely that the company’s satellite office of 20 employees in Topeka offers the same benefits.
Sheetz Inc. has been struggling with this challenge. Sheetz made health and wellness a priority by investing in a state of the art $4 million 12,000 square foot employee wellness center, aptly named the Sheetz Center for Shwellness.
Bill Young, Director of Compensation, Benefits, and Risk at Sheetz, acknowledged the challenges that lay ahead in effectively deploying a wellness solution to all employees. “Our challenge is we have 13,000 employees spread across six states and 450 stores, and really, how do you take a wellness concept and program and get folks dispersed like that engaged and try to get an impact at that level?”
A mobile wellness solution is a cost effective way to solve the challenge of deploying a robust and equitable wellness program across multiple offices. As long as an employee has a smartphone, he or she can access the same wellness resources whether in the Syracuse satellite office, on business trip in London, or working from home to care for sick kids.
Weight loss coaches, dieticians, personal trainers – these services are all available as mobile apps for little to no cost. With around 40,000 mobile health apps available, finding health and wellness resources is no longer the challenge. Instead, the challenges for an employer looking to explore mobile wellness are two fold: curating the abundance of apps to determine the most effective mobile solutions for an employer’s population and then finding a way to manage and administer the mobile apps in a corporate wellness setting.
The right corporate wellness partner can help manage both the curation and administration of mobile wellness apps for a surprisingly competitive price.
If you are interested in learning how mobile wellness can help solve your corporate wellness needs, send us an email
For more on Sheetz’s commitment to wellness: http://www.cspnet.com/news/corporate/articles/isnt-shwell
Americans know health is important, in fact, we are reminded daily. The American Heart Association symbol on the yellow Cheerios box, the Surgeon General’s warning on a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, Weight Watchers commercials, and six-pack abs gracing the front of Women’s Health magazine remind us of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Despite the daily reminders, taking action to live a healthier life can be a challenge. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, “The vast majority of Americans believe it’s possible to have a great deal of control over their level of physical activity, the healthfulness of their diet and their weight, yet far fewer are actually taking that control.”
Could equating health to tangible real dollars help people see the immediate value of tacking action and embracing a healthier lifestyle? According to the foundation’s study, “More than half of Americans agree that they would rather lose $1,000 than gain an additional 20 pounds.”
It’s hard to evaluate the importance of this statistic without looking further at details like age, income, and current weight; however, the question alone brings attention to the importance of placing a monetary value on health.
What if we slightly altered the question asked in the study, and instead asked: how much would I have to pay you to lose 20 pounds? Many employers are asking this exact question. Employers are attaching financial incentives to their corporate wellness programs to further encourage employees to engage in healthy activity, and it’s working!
Employers want their employees to be healthy for a number of reasons including lowering healthcare costs, increasing productivity, decreasing absenteeism, and increasing employee satisfaction. For many employers, the best way to encourage healthy behavior is through financial incentives such as HSA dollars, additional vacation days, or cash rewards.
How much would your employer have to pay you to lose 10lbs? Let us know @getwellable
For more on the International Food Information Council Foundation’s study: http://www.foodinsight.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=rZGI8ERlGXk%3d&tabid=65
Grabbing a Clif bar just before running out the door. Racing to Starbucks to pickup a mourning venti latte with soymilk for that requisite jolt of caffeine before heading into the office. More likely than not, you are familiar with the daily mad dash and hustle of the morning commute.
I have less than fond memories of speed walking down Commonwealth Ave in Boston and weaving in and out of standstill traffic racing to get to work. My focus was narrow. My goal was simple, get there on time. With such a singular focus, it was difficult to remember that there can actually be benefits of a morning or evening commute – that is health benefits.
New York City recently launched their bike share program (now the largest of such programs in North America). The launch of “Citi Bike” is a nice reminder of a healthy option available for getting to and from the office.
Bicycling can be a great way to stay in shape. In fact, according to one study, a 155 lbs person can burn 260 calories with a moderate 30 min bike ride.
You may be surprised at the miles you rack up during your weekly commute. I challenge you to power up your favorite smartphone GPS fitness app and start tracking your weekly walk or bike to work.
Remember, getting to and from work can count as exercise too!
For more on the launch of New York’s bike share program: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/24/us-fitness-bicycles-idUSBRE95N08O20130624
For more on the # of calories burned during bicycling and other exercises: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities.htm
In late 2012, Wellable was excited to hear that the Massachusetts legislature enacted legislation providing that employers that initiate a wellness programs for their employees will be eligible for an annual wellness tax credit of up to $10,000. The credit is in the amount of up to 25% of the cost of implementing an employee wellness program. Costs in the initial year that exceed that figure may be carried over into subsequent years for credit against future tax liabilities. The legislature has placed a $15 million per year limit on the total amount of wellness tax credits that may be issued.
What criteria must employers satisfy in order to be certified?
- Less than 200 employees, the majority of whom work in Massachusetts
- Offer healthcare benefits to employees
- Must be in compliance with all legal obligations of employers
What must a wellness program include to be certified?
- Annual budget for wellness expenditures
- Designated wellness champion
- Formal communication about wellness program to all employees
- Employee awareness of their personal health risks
- Collected data or information on employee interests on various topics
- Identification of the most important health issues and/or interests of employees
- Program development based on most important health issues and/or interests of employees
- Minimum 1/3 participation of employees in at least one element of the wellness program
In order to promote workplace wellness programs among the smallest employers, 50% of the 2013 allocation will be reserved for small employers with 100 or fewer employees.
For more information on the tax credit program or how Wellable can help you gain certification, feel free to contact us. We are proudly located in Boston and would love to grab coffee!
One of the most important, but often overlooked ways to drive engagement happens well before the launch date of a wellness program.
I stumbled upon a slightly dated, yet still relevant article titled “When it comes to wellness, ask employees what they want.” This article is a reminder of a crucial step in building an effective corporate wellness program.
Ask employees. Asking for employee input may seem like an obvious first step, but you would be surprised by the number of employers who have not solicited any input or feedback from their employees.
Employee feedback during the early stages of designing a wellness program will not only help zero-in on the wellness needs of an organization, it will help employees feel part of the process. Employees that feel part of the process will be more likely to participate in the program once launched.
Employee feedback can go beyond administering a survey. Some clients have created wellness working groups and enlisted employees from throughout the organization to help select and build a wellness program.
Regardless of how you decide to solicit employee input, make sure it is a priority from the start. For help on how to best to engage employees in the wellness selection process send us an email.
For more on asking employees about their wellness needs: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2009/may/22/when-it-comes-wellness-ask-employees-what-they-wan/#axzz2YaHAh2tT