Employers Offering Wellness Programs – A comparison between US and Malta

Source: Mario Sammut PKF Malta¸ 22nd May 2012

A new report suggests that more companies are turning to wellness programs to curb employee medical costs and improve their workers’ general health. Relatively few employers are measuring the actual return on investment that these programs generate.

While wellness programs have existed for decades¸ their prevalence has grown significantly over the past ten years. Even the recent economic downturn has not slowed their growth¸ with nearly 60 percent of American employers implementing new wellness programs since 2008; 23.7 percent have started offering them since 2010. Additionally¸ nearly two-thirds of organizations increased their wellness budgets in the last five years.

Researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change in US¸ recently conducted a study for the National Institute for Health Care Reform and found that wellness program return on investment is uncertain. Goetzel and peers¸ in their meta-analysis of two dozen articles summarizing economic examinations of health and productivity management programs¸ found an average return of $3.14 per id=”mce_marker” invested in traditional wellness programs. The ROI estimates for the individual programs ranged from id=”mce_marker”.49 to id=”mce_marker”3.7¸ whilst on the other hand Aldana reviewed 72 articles and concluded that wellness programs achieve a typical ROI of $3.48 when considering healthcare costs alone¸ $5.82 per id=”mce_marker” when examining absenteeism¸ and $4.30 when both outcomes are considered.

According to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ recent survey Wellness Programs and Value-Based Health Care¸ suggests a definite decrease in health care costs when wellness initiatives are offered. Of the organizations that are analyzing ROI¸ 83 percent indicated a positive return. For every dollar spent on wellness initiatives¸ most organizations see between id=”mce_marker” to $3 decreases in their overall health care costs.

According to the survey the figure below shows the most prevalent reasons why organizations provide wellness initiatives.

Nearly 90 percent of the organizations surveyed provide incentives to increase participation in their health and wellness programs. These incentives are mostly linked to health risk assessments¸ health screening and fitness programs as shown in the bar-graph.

Although in Malta till now the importance of Wellness Programs being offered by employers is still a remote area¸ occupational health and safety is a matter of extreme importance and non-observance of the relevant legislation can have very serious consequences on employers and employees.

By Law¸ employers must at all times ensure the health and safety of their employees as well as of persons who may be affected by the work being carried out for the employer.

Amongst the various measures that must be taken by an