Wellness in the Workplace

Wellness programs are believed to be effective in controlling costs, yet prices are still rising at levels “consistent with the last several years.”

Employers are finding it’s working, but it’s not affecting cost. Why?

The chronically ill are going to be ill and often times look for an exit strategy. It’s why supplements for “diet” have gotten to be such a big problem. With all the research, we should have better evidence for and against exercise, diet- meaning specific foods- like organics, before or pre-pharmacy options. The “magic pill” should be tried after intensive therapy and diet.

We do have obesity issues, so having wellness is intuitively a good idea. But then why do plan documents not reward health? I mean, let’s put in a walking program, running or other exercise before we do surgery or drugs. We know behavior modification comes with intensive personal visits. Let’s not try pills and side effects first, let’s try exercise, mental health, and diet coaching.

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Wellness

In a survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation on 2013 Employer Health Benefits, they found that fifty-five percent of large firms (200 or more workers) and 26% of smaller firms offering health benefits report offering biometric screening to employees.

A biometric screening is a health examination that measures an employee’s risk factors, such as body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, and nutrition.

Of the firms that do offer biometric screening to employees, 11% of large firms require employees to complete a biometric screening to enroll in the health plan; and 11% of large firms report that employees may be financially rewarded or penalized based in meeting biometric outcomes.

Biometric screening could be a valuable tool to get employees better coverage for lower prices. However, rarely do firms require them. Imagine if firms did require them, how much they would be able to save their employees in the long run.

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Ending the Epidemic

If primary care doctors understood that the risks may outweigh the benefits when opioids are prescribed long-term for low back pain, headaches, and fibromyalgia, they might offer safer and more effective options. Imagine if dentists understood how similar OPRs are to heroin, I bet you that they probably would not be giving teenagers 30 tablets of Vicodin after getting their wisdom teeth removed.

In order to promote more cautious prescribing, clinicians must have an accurate appreciation of opioid risks and benefits. For this to happen, prescribers must have access to education and training programs that are free of the misinformation that has driven over prescribing.

We need to re-educate physicians to get them to understand the risks involved with getting heavily involved with pharma.

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