Health Care for Employees

Currently, many companies face a dilemma, regarding health care. Simply stated, “health care costs have skyrocketed,” for all employees, and they show few signs of going down, nor does Congress seem motivated to instate a nation-wide solution any time soon. Also, as a result of these rising costs, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have likewise increased—an average of 11.

2 percent in 2004, making 2004 the fourth consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to the 2004 Annual Employer Health Benefits survey.(Bell, 2005) One ‘solution’ to the proposed cost increases is not to provide health care, particularly for part-time employees—for instance, as a consequence, there were at least 5 million fewer jobs providing health insurance in 2004 than in 2001. However, within the health care industry itself is hardly a viable ‘solution,’ given the on-the-job threats faced by many workers, such as violence in large, public hospitals, the threat of infection and the greater exposure of health care workers to even mild ailments.Also, there is often a more vocal demand for better health care within industry workers, given health care worker’s greater knowledge of the need for regular health-related screenings and tests. In fact, preventative medicine might be the best solution to escalating costs, suggests Vicki Bell, in her article “Keeping Employee health care costs down. ” Regular checkups and healthy habits not only improve employee health but also reduce long-term medical expenses, according to Bell.This is because “when health care plans come up for renewal, insurance companies review past claims and determine whether to increase premiums, change the plan, or even whether to continue providing coverage at all.

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Insurance companies can refuse to renew coverage for companies with employees who have excessive claims. ” (Bell, 2005) The stresses of the health care field may make such wellness programs particularly necessary—nothing can be as stressful as putting the health of a patient before one’s own health, some doctors and nurses might exclaim.Also, wellness programs can also include job-related accident prevention programs, such as how to deal with AIDS-infected patients, patients lashing out violently during delusional phases, and other safety-related job procedures and concerns. But the out-of-work health care of employees should not be ignored, either, stresses Bell. “Research by the Dallas-based Cooper Clinic indicates that being a faithful exerciser may cut hospital stays and doctor’s visits—for serious or minor illnesses—by almost half.A 19-year study of nearly 7,000 men aged 20 to 80 suggested that fit men reduced their medical visits and bills by 46 percent.

The study also showed that men and women who were out of shape and eventually became fit were able to lower their chances of being hospitalized by 42 percent. To get out of the low-fit group takes 30 minutes of physical activity three to five days a week. ” (Bell, 2005) Exercise can also help an individual perform better as an employee, and better able to cope with the physical stresses of the job. Wellness programs can comprise many elements.

Some combine “providing nutrition information for healthy eating and weight control (obesity is a leading cause of health problems)” for employees, as well as rewards-based initiatives “to encourage employees to break unhealthy habits, such as smoking and alcohol and drug abuse” and of course, “hygiene education to prevent spreading diseases. ” (Bell, 2005) Some programs attempt to incorporate the “encouragement of and opportunities for regular exercise and training in stress reduction methods,” into the workday. (Bell, 2005)Ideally, a wellness program would incorporate all possible components to maximize employee health.

But this is not always financially feasible. And here is where human resources can provide crucial aid in designing such a program for health care workers, so scarce finances are allocated in the most efficient fashion. Human resources staff can analyze overall employee demographics: for example, in companies without high employee turnover, the average age of the work force increases, which can shift health care costs from accidents and maternity care to middle-age diseases. (Bell, 2005)Human resources staff designing such a program need to ask questions such as, “which accidents and conditions” are most noticeable in the company overall, collective employee health history? “Based on age, physical condition, and habits, what are the most obvious health risks” amongst employees? What specific injuries, illness, and potential health problems should the wellness program focus on? Also, in a confidential fashion, the human resource staff can assess the overall levels of health care education, concern, and scrupulousness of employees. How many employees have regular checkups? Does the health plan cover annual checkups?How many employees smoke? How many employees routinely follow standard safety procedures? Human resource staff can also conduct a workflow assessment, to determine if screenings or even regular exercise sessions could be slotted into an employee’s regular daily schedule. Collective wellness programs could increase employee performance, loyalty to the company, overall company morale, and also—a fitter health care worker is a better health car worker.

Bibliography : Bell, Vicki. (8 Feb 2004) “Keeping Employee Health Costs Down. ” The Fabricator. Retrieved 9 Apr 2005 at http://www. thefabricator. com/Articles/Safety_Exclusive.

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