…fighting to curb health costs…

Many companies are adopting policies that actively manage workers’ coverage. Up to now, these have been initiated mostly by larger firms, but their approaches can be adapted to golf facilities and other small companies.

One key ingredient is to keep workers healthy:

  • Identify those at risk and encourage early treatment and control. Offer tests to assess health risks and join appropriate disease management programs.
  • Subsidize fitness. Help staff pay for exercise classes, weight management, nutrition counseling or smoking-cessation programs.

Keep in mind that employers can reward staff members who volunteer for such programs, but can’t penalize those who choose not to participate. Basing incentives on achieving specific results risks costly lawsuits.

Also, watch for counterproductive cost-cutting. Higher costs for employees can lead some to not take necessary maintenance medication, such as asthma and diabetes drugs. This leads to expensive procedures, longer hospitalization and higher long-term costs, which eat up 75 percent of health care costs.

Source: The Kiplinger Letter, April 1, 2005; Associated Press, July 18, 2005.