Healthy Americans may account for only 8 percent of the population, but these 24 million people are the answer to saving America billions of dollars on unnecessary health care expenditures each year. More than 40 percent of premature deaths in the U.S. are a result of unhealthy behaviors like obesity and smoking. These habits are costing Americans $100 billion to $150 billion a year.
As a result, healthcare costs are higher than ever and the increased prices have forced many business owners into bankruptcy. So what is the solution to lowering healthcare costs? Take the steps to encourage your employees to make better lifestyle choices. Companies must acknowledge the health problems affecting their employees and implement programs to solve them.
One of the most serious public health problems, and the leading cause of preventable death, is obesity. It also costs the United States $147 billion a year in healthcare. Companies should motivate their employees to exercise by offering discounted gym memberships, hosting company run/walks or implementing exercise programs. Additional options include access to nutritionists and healthy nutritional options in company cafeterias and vending machines.
Smokers have cost the U.S. $96 billion in health care this year. Almost 21 percent of Americans smoke, which is more than 45 million people. Therefore, employers should encourage their staff to quit smoking by offering incentive programs or access to counselors. Many companies are implementing a tobacco-free workplace.
Lastly, companies should be aware that the current economy may have an increased affect on their employee’s stress levels. This can lead to smoking or unhealthy eating. Make sure to continue positively reinforcing your employees and let them know exercise is a great way to alleviate stress. By keeping employees healthy, businesses can reduce healthcare costs, which in turn will impact their bottom-line.
Daniel Touizer is founder and CEO of Cinergy Health