This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
A headline came into my inbox recently indicating that Americans accessed the healthcare system less in 2010. I was intrigued, so I opened the post and read on. The data looked at markers like visits to the doctor, lab tests, and hospital admissions—with all-system access being lower in the first three quarters of 2010 than it was for the same period in 2009.
A Sign of Improved Employee Health?
Although my gut told me the driver behind this trend was economic, a little piece of me was holding out hope that some portion of Americans used the healthcare system less because they took powerful and lasting steps toward improved personal health.
Alas, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the decreased utilization in 2010 was directly related to the economy; individuals lost insurance coverage when they lost their jobs, and they tightened their discretionary spending significantly. So I didn’t get my wish. There wasn’t a
health-promotion fairy out there waving her magic healthy wand to help people choose better health.
An Opportunity for Corporate Wellness Programs
But all hope is not lost—and employers, this is where you really need to listen up. A recent study from the University of Michigan showed that risk-specific messaging may help recipients change their health behavior. While your employees' use of the healthcare system is already down, consider this a prime time to deliver very targeted health-promotion messaging to your employees, and perhaps they will continue to tap into the health system less and less with better health. The result: decreased medical expenses for everyone!
How are you targeting your messaging to your employees?