The purpose of preventive care is to delay or avert the onset of illness and disease. This shifts the focus of healthcare from treating sickness to maintaining overall well-being and good health.
Broadly, prevention involves living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of oneself. However, it could also include care services such as physical examinations, screenings, counseling and immunizations. These services, combined with a healthy lifestyle, can greatly increase the chances of avoiding chronic conditions.
Healthy Living by the Numbers
According to the CDC, if everyone in the U.S. received recommended clinical preventive care, 100,000 lives each year could be saved. Increased use of effective preventive services would result in less suffering from ailments that could have been prevented had they been detected and treated early on. When proper guidelines are followed (e.g., those set by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, or the USPSTF), preventive care is more cost-effective than treating diseases once symptoms occur.
A direct connection exists between living a healthy lifestyle and reducing medical expenses. The Trust for American’s Health, for example, suggests that there could be a return of $5.60 for every $1 spent on proven preventive care strategies in America. In brief, healthy employees are an economic asset for companies.
Preventive care should be incorporated into employer-sponsored health plans to help employees and their families stay healthy and for the organization to comply with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. According to the CDC, however, Americans use preventive health services at about half the recommended rate.
5 Steps for Promoting Prevention
So, how can you encourage employees to practice prevention? Start with these five easy steps:
1. Begin with the basics. Make sure your employees know which doctors are included in their health plan’s list of approved network providers. If an annual wellness checkup and related procedures are free of charge within that network, let your employees know.
2. Educate your workforce. Besides educating your employees about the preventive care services that your health plan offers, consider informing them about potential risk factors and the benefits of preventive medicine. These initiatives could alert employees to various symptoms and methods of treatment. To help educate your employees, consider using materials such as preventive care birthday card reminders, flyers, etc.
3. Evaluate your workplace. Conduct employee surveys and ask about work stressors, job demands and perceived levels of support. Follow up with a communication related to how you plan to address the feedback provided. Establishing a work environment that is supportive in reducing your employees’ barriers to preventive care can help increase the likelihood of these services being used.
4. Make it convenient. Find ways to make preventive care more convenient for your employees. For example, you could work with nearby clinics, develop an on-site clinic or host a mobile van for vaccinations and screenings. Giving employees an extra half or full day of PTO to attend their preventive exam can go a long way toward increasing your population’s utilization of their preventive care benefits.
5. Promote good health habits. Consider implementing a workplace wellness strategy that encourages employees to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. These initiatives can take on a variety of forms such as educational services, gym memberships, health coaching and the like.
Preventive care is an important initiative for employers to implement because it can prevent conditions from worsening—or occurring at all—and improve overall employee health and quality of life.
Reach out to your local Hylant health strategist today for help aligning your well-being plan with your business strategy.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your employee benefits broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions.