Small businesses that offer health insurance to their workforce have been looking for ways to lower premium costs as, particularly for businesses with only a few employees, keeping a health insurance plan in place can be quite expensive, so some businesses have turned to healthcare incentives as a way to lower the overall costs they must meet to continue to provide insurance. Obviously, there have been some businesses who have stopped offering health insurance altogether, while others may only offer options through a high deductible health insurance plan, but there are arguments to be made that providing healthcare incentives to workers may help businesses lower their health care costs as workers become healthier.
Ideally, a healthcare incentive for a small business in need of more affordable health insurance would either offer on-site fitness and wellness options, like either a gym or counseling with a healthcare and fitness professional, but some employers have simply implemented practices that offer something as little as a discount on a gym membership. While there have been some businesses who have offered prizes, other incentives like days off, or even cash to workers who get themselves in a healthier position, there are still questions as to whether providing these incentives to employees will actually lower the costs that a small business owner must meet.
Again, some companies feel this is an excellent opportunity to not only get workers healthier, but hopefully lower their health insurance premiums in the future, however there are some who feel that this should not be a quick decision made by an employer, as even those who may want to implement health care incentives for their workers need to find out how best to go about awarding employees for leading a healthier lifestyle. One online article simply suggests that, “Before going out on a limb to bring an incentive program to your office, have a serious talk with employees about whether or not they would take advantage of such programs.”
Simply offering a gym membership, as an example, would not necessarily promote some employees to change their habits and put themselves in a healthier state, but obviously, there are some employees who may take advantage of this offer, so differentiating between these groups within a small business will be necessary. Again, some businesses may offer rewards for employees who lose weight or quit smoking, as again, these changes in a worker’s lifestyle can eventually lead to more affordable health insurance costs.
Understandably, employer group health insurance plans are not allowed to deny someone coverage if they have a preexisting condition and, in some businesses, these employees have gone through a waiting period but then received coverage for their preexisting condition, which again, may increase the overall costs an employer must meet. Also, some weight related conditions, like high blood pressure or even diabetes, in some cases, may be cured, if again, they are present in the life of an employee due to being overweight.
However, employers should not automatically look for reductions in their health insurance costs, as these healthcare incentives could take time before benefits are seen in terms of premium costs. Yet, many small businesses who have implemented these plans and may not have seen a great reduction in their health insurance costs at the present time have still said that their employees are benefiting as they are taking fewer sick days, have more energy, and it has helped some workers increase their morale and productivity, which can be an asset to an employer even if health insurance costs are still high.