High co-pays, skyrocketing deductibles, and unpredictable medical bills can scare you away from going to the doctor. Meanwhile, premiums are becoming 
more and more expensive. In today’s healthcare landscape, it can feel like insurance carriers don’t really care about your wellbeing at all.

But here’s the truth: some insurance companies will actually pay you to keep your team healthy.

That can seem counterintuitive, but the healthier your employees are, the fewer insurance companies need to pay out for your policy. The more healthy people they have on their plans, the better their profit margins. For this reason, many insurers have incentives for employers to improve the wellbeing of their workforce.

These incentives are called wellness dollars, and they can be used to cover many different purchases and programs, like gym memberships, nutrition classes, stress relief programs, and more. Introducing these programs is a win-win: Employers can simultaneously decrease insurance costs and increase employee engagement.

So, how can you take advantage of wellness dollars for your organization?


1. Contact Your Carrier

Call up your insurance broker or a representative for your insurance carrier and ask whether they offer health and wellness incentives for your employees. Keep in mind, these incentives might not always be called “Wellness Dollars.” Other common names include wellness reimbursement, wellness credits, fitness reimbursement, or fit rewards. Get as much information as possible about these incentives.


2. Find Out Which Expenses Can be Covered

Each insurer will have unique rules for how wellness dollars can be spent. Yours may cover gym membership, fitness classes, nutrition programs, a treadmill, yoga, meditation, and more! Get a complete list of covered expenses from your carrier—this will help in your research later.

It’s important to remember that these programs are not unlimited, and most insurers will have an upper amount that they will reimburse. Find out what your limit is, so you can make the most of the cost-savings and maximize your return on investment.


3. Research Wellness Options

Armed with the knowledge of which expenses are covered, you can start researching local programs and offerings. It’s up to you to decide whether you want a comprehensive program that handles all of the logistics for you, like an active wellness program, or a series of smaller products and programs, like gym memberships or individual fitness classes.

You can also choose between services that send trainers and coaches to your office or programs that would require your employees to pursue wellness on their own time, outside of work.

Remember, you don’t necessarily need to feel limited by your wellness dollars limit. Even if only part of your expenses will be reimbursed, employee well-being programs have huge benefits beyond cost savings that need to be taken into consideration.


4. Talk With Your Team

Your best resource in the research process is your employees—after all, these are the people who will need to adopt your new wellness program.

There are several ways to engage your team for this purpose. Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few carriers, you can send a survey to your workforce and ask which programs your employees might like best. It’s also useful to have a dialogue with employee leaders to discuss ways you can support the adoption of whatever program you eventually choose.


5. Start Getting Healthy!

After choosing a carrier, it’s your responsibility to incentivize your employees to participate. These programs only work if employees take part! Also, don’t forget to save receipts and records to maximize your reimbursements.

Then join your employees in their fitness and wellbeing activities and enjoy your happier, healthier workforce and improved bottom line!

Wellness dollars are one of the insurance world’s best-kept secrets. With just a few phone calls and a little research, you can improve your employees’ health and reduce insurance payments, all with one program.


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