The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that half of a person's "health status" results from choices he makes every day -- what to eat, when to go to bed, how much to exercise.
For employers, that realization could translate into big savings on health insurance premiums and an increase in employee productivity, since healthier people use fewer medical resources and take less sick time.
A range of research demonstrates that when offered incentives, employees are more likely to engage in a healthier lifestyle. Employers have responded with a number of programs such as employer-sponsored wellness classes and discount programs on non-covered health expenses.
The latest health industry innovation for employees is the personalized secure online health scorecard. The scorecard is a personalized action plan for each employee that encourages healthy behaviors and helps employees address health challenges and chronic illnesses.
After analyzing information that employees gives the scorecard, the health scorecard proposes and keeps track of health actions, such as preventive doctor's visits, enrolling with a health coach, or getting a mammogram.
By taking the actions, the employee can earn incentives such as savings on the monthly health insurance premium, extra money for a heath care account or one-time cash payments.
The scorecards are confidential and the employer has no way of accessing the information on them.
The personal health scorecard is a relatively new approach by employers and health insurance companies, but UnitedHealthcare estimates that these kinds of programs will have a positive return on investment for employers as early as in the second year of the program.
-- Sue Schick is with UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania, firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering tidbits on matters affecting business. To contribute, contact Business Editor Brian Hyslop at email@example.com .