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Healthcare Coverage May Not Make Employees Healthy (But Your Company Can)

December 4, 2013 / Corporate Wellness

Laptop 2In a recent CNN opinion article, Dr. Sanjay Gupta weighed in on the ongoing discourse surrounding the Affordable Care Act. He noted that just because people receive healthcare coverage, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to develop healthier lifestyles as a result. Coverage alone doesn’t necessarily make healthy people – that responsibility lies on the individual to create a healthy life for themselves.

But here’s the good news: This doesn’t mean your employees have to go it alone. You can play a critical role in helping your employees reach this healthy end.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine study conducted in Oregon, individuals without coverage were randomly selected to receive Medicaid benefits. Those that received coverage went to the doctor more, received preventative health services, and received more medications than they previously had, but in nearly every area they weren’t considered to be healthier.

While the debate over the efficacy of the Affordable Care Act wages on, in light of some key incentives that self-insured employers are now able to provide their employees in upcoming New Year, you should be eyeballing not just how you can take advantage of these incentives to improve your employees’ lives, but also how you can create a truly healthy workforce by focusing on their overall well-being.

By focusing on Total Quality of Life programs that support all aspects of employees’ lives, including physical, social, emotional, financial health and more, you’ll be better positioned to cultivate a truly healthy workforce. These types of programs are designed to meet each employee wherever they are on their road to good health, providing them with the tools necessary to lead healthy lifestyles. . What’s more, these types of programs can be easily implemented into existing wellness initiatives with relative ease.

One of the benefits of nurturing  a healthy workforce are more engaged employees, ones who are emotionally committed to their jobs and your company.  Highly engaged employees result in a more efficient and effective workforce which benefits both the top and bottom-lines.

While healthcare coverage is certainly important for everyone to have, it’s just one piece of a larger puzzle to improve health. Companies whose employees adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles are the ones where the executives and managers prioritize overall well-being in the daily lives of their employees – both at work, and in their personal lives.

Have an example of how your company’s workplace wellness program has created healthier lives for your employees? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Jennifer Turgiss, Dr.P.H., M.S, is Vice President, Health Solutions at Virgin Pulse. Jennifer helped get Virgin Pulse off the ground in 2005 (as Virgin HealthMiles), after 20 years in senior management roles at national and global health and wellness organizations. Today, she leads the development and implementation of client best practices for Virgin Pulse and oversees all of our client-based analytics projects.

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