Bring us your overweight, double cheeseburger eating, lazy, smoking, drug/alcohol abusing employees and dependents…

Why your group health insurance really keeps going up!

You may be thinking:

  • Physicians income and lack of efficiency – So What?
  • Increasing drug prices – So What?
  • Insurance company profits – So What?

While these factors certainly contribute to your increasing premiums, they have been debated for at least the 20 years that I have been in the healthcare industry with no resolution.  The only potential solution was that government could do a better job and we all know how that worked out..

You are successful at business because you control the controllables.  In my experience, there are two ways to manage your healthcare costs.

  1. 7 out of 10 deaths are caused by chronic diseases – Effectively manage your sickest members that are driving the vast majority of your claims costs.  We all learned the 80/20 rule growing up and it isn’t that far off in terms of where your health care dollars are being spent.  According to the CDC, half of Americans have at least 1 chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. If your disease management program can embrace your employees and dependents with chronic diseases to reduce hospital stays and return visits to the hospital, they will be earning their money, which a topic for another posting.
  2. 70% – 90% of chronic diseases are caused by poor health choices – Lack of physical activity, obesity, poor diet, tobacco use, excess drinking and substance abuse are the key drivers in developing chronic diseases.  

If you really want to positively impact your health costs, I would ask myself two questions:

  1. Do I have the right wellness strategy?
  2. Is wellness and improving the health of your employees truly part of your corporate culture?

There are literally thousands of wellness companies out there and more than ⅔ of companies offer some type of wellness program, but that doesn’t mean that they are effective.  In my experience working with my clients and some of the largest wellness companies in the country is that many of them rely on self reported data and offer silly incentives that help clean out the corporate promotional items closet, but don’t do much for changing behavior and more importantly, reducing your healthcare costs.

In terms of culture, I have seen many times with my clients that while everyone wants to have a healthy, happy workforce, the #1 reason that corporate wellness programs fail is that there is a lack of support from the top of the organization to truly embrace wellness as a core value.  If you promote work life balance and leading a healthy lifestyle, but the unwritten rule is that you sit at your cubicle for 10-12 hours per day, your employees may be getting a mixed message.

I have had recent success with programs that leverage activity trackers such as Fitbit and Garmin, in order to create challenges among employees to exceed fitness goals while getting them fully engaged with their peers with leader boards and recognition.  

If you have ever wondered why the default on these devices is 10k steps per day, which is roughly 5 miles, the American Heart Association uses the 10k metric as a guideline to follow for improving health and decreasing risk of heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in America.  This is also consistent with the Surgeon General’s recommendation to accumulate 30 minutes of activity most days of the week to reduce your risk for disease and help you lead a longer, healthier life.  Studies have shown that the 10k day challenges can lower BMI, reduce waist size, increase energy and have less risk for Type II diabetes and heart disease.

For employers trying to do the right thing, an aligned wellness strategy can not only improve the health of your employees, but also drive improved morale and teamwork by engaging everyone to create and achieve their fitness goals.  The bonus is a more productive workforce that is truly engaged in working together to achieve goals.

Please leave comments on the topic and if you would like to discuss your wellness strategy further, please contact me at or visit our website at  

My goal is to help you focus on growing business and having healthy engaged employees is a great place to start!

Derek S Bridges, CEO, Next Level HealthCare


30 thoughts on “Bring us your overweight, double cheeseburger eating, lazy, smoking, drug/alcohol abusing employees and dependents…”

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