Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Reason To Be Bearish On Wellness Vendors For 2014

Human capital
The Disease Management Care Blog is furiously preparing for the July 26-28 World Congress' Wellness As A Strategic Business Priority meeting.  The speaker-DMCB mission is to tackle the "population-based" implications of "wellness" programs, with a special focus on ....

1) data management: observational database analytics is well within the reach of most desktops;

2) maximizing participation: combine claims, on-site biometric screening, health risk assessments, population needs assessments, predictive modeling and most of all, do a good job of building it and "they will come";

3) using incentives: multiple overlapping approaches with multiple and repetitive communication channels are a must. It helps to integrate wellness programs with prevention, population health management and standard insurance programs.  Finally, don't forget that, if this is an employer-based program, senior management needs to buy in and participate

4) offering a suite of options: this means including web and telephonic self education materials, individual counseling, group activities and social media aimed at weight loss, fitness, tobacco cessation and risk factor mitigation.

This promises to be a highly educational conference.  If interested in finding out more, you can register here.

And, as an added bonus and because it cannot help it, the DMCB is also going to point out that the employer class that is typically most likely to sponsor wellness programs for its employees are the  self-insured "ERISA" protected plans.  In the meantime, the commercial "fully-insured" group and individual insurance plans generally don't include "wellness" as a benefit. That's because a) it's a cost and b) there's lingering doubt among health insurance actuaries about the cost-benefit ratio of wellness programs in the commercial setting.

Which means that, if the controversial McKinsey Report predicting Obamacare will result in large numbers of employers exiting the insurance market is correct, the wellness vendors can ironically look forward to a down market in 2014.  ERISA-protected plans that offer wellness will contract, while commercial insurance, which doesn't cover wellness, will expand.

You read it here first.

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