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Legislative Memo

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www.bcnys.org

BILL:

A.10884-A (Morelle) / S.4675-A (Hannon)

  Support

SUBJECT:

Wellness Programs

 

A.10884-A (Morelle) / S.4675-A (Hannon)

DATE:

June 16, 2008

 

The Business Council supports this legislation, which permits health insurers to offer wellness programs.  Wellness programs provide an employer with a valuable vehicle to encourage healthy behavior and lifestyle decisions, wellness, and disease management and prevention among its workforce.

The cost of employee healthcare is the top policy priority of The Business Council's members.  As the cost of employee healthcare continues to rise and negatively impact a business's profitability and competitiveness, employers play an increasingly important role in supporting the health of their workers. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, research has shown that productivity losses associated with poor employee health impact a business's bottom line even harder than medical costs.

This legislation allows for the creation of a wellness program that could include programs and services such as: a health risk assessment tool; smoking cessation, weight management; stress management; worker injury prevention; nutrition education; and health or fitness incentive programs.  Participation in the wellness program would be voluntary.

In addition, the legislation allows for the use of rewards and incentives for participation in a wellness program.  In the experience rated market, these could include: discounted premium rates, rebates and refunds.  Other rewards and incentives could include: full or partial reimbursement of the cost of participating in a smoking cessation or weight management program, or the cost of a membership in a health club or fitness center, or gift cards or gift certificates that promote good health.

By investing in the health of employees and preventing and managing disease, wellness programs can mean less – and wiser – utilization of medical goods and services.  Wellness programs with incentives and rewards can be expected to promote employee participation, contribute to a healthier and more productive workforce, and mitigate future large premium increases.

The Business Council supports the passage of A.10884-A/S.4675-A.