Results trump incentives in outcome-based approach to health risk solutions

by Robert on April 10, 2012

Kate Hansum

Most employer wellness strategies involve the use of incentives to reward healthy behaviors and lower the health risk profile of the employee population—so much so, that it’s validity is hardly questioned.

But an outcome-based model championed by Lockton’s health risk solutions team offers a different approach, advocating longer-term commitments, senior leadership accountabilities and a financial model that ties health engagement to a lower healthcare premium.

Premium differential

According to the outcome-based plan model, if an employee participates in a cardiac program to reduce health risk factors they can, depending on the benefit design, lower their out-of-pocket healthcare premium by 20 percent or more—as long as their blood pressure stays within a certain healthy range. If they have high risk and don’t take action to change those risk factors the premium will not be lowered.

“If an employer is going to spend the time and money you want to make sure you get results,” says Kate Hansum, Lockton Northeast’s director of health risk solutions.

“Otherwise an employee might participate in a wellness program—adhering to certain dietary requirements, for example—and still not lose weight, which was the goal of the program in the first place. Our model ties participation to results and maps directly to the employee’s out-of-pocket premium obligation,” Hansum adds.

Driving cultural change

Hansum says Lockton helps guide employers into a solutions-based strategy that begins immediately but grows and improves over the long-term. After identifying the health risks of an employee population, based on health claims and other data sources, Hansum’s team advocates the use of communication strategies to engage employees to develop a healthier corporate culture and an overall healthier way of living, including exercise, dietary changes, weight reduction and smoke cessation.

Top-down engagement

Another cornerstone of the Lockton approach is top-down engagement and senior leader partnership, including the chief executive officer and chief financial officer. The partnership goes beyond simple ambassadorship, encouraging senior leaders to get out in front of the message and become transparent with their own wellness program accountabilities.

“Leadership accountabilities drive cultural change when it comes to wellness programs, right down to healthier changes in cafeteria food selections,” says Hansum, who pioneered the design of health and wellness strategies with Mercer, Anthem and UnitedHealthcare before joining Lockton.

Companies are paying for employee health risks on the back end, such as Type II Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure drugs, so Lockton uses robust data analytical tools to help with early detection and risk reduction, she says.

“We want employee health to remain the same or get better—it’s that simple, and early identification is crucial to combating disease and the onset of health risk factors that can quickly make things worse,” says Hansum.

Hansum also mentions that her firm leverages national resources and broad experience with a diverse cross-section of clients across the nation to help employers develop custom approaches to health risk. She’s worked with advanced health risk management programs, clients who are just starting out, and everything in between. She can be reached at KHansum@lockton.com.

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