Viewpoints from Claire Letourneau and Briana Loff
I’m always thrilled when I can strategize with some kind of wellness budget. But however meager or robust the funding, employees will still be able to receive wellness programming or services. An internal budget makes me the most optimistic; it demonstrates that senior leadership finds enough value in taking care of employee wellbeing to allocate resources toward their success. Yet many Human Resources professionals find themselves searching for alternative options – either free wellness programming or a magic tree on which wellness funding grows. Your magic tree may be in your medical carrier’s garden.
Ok, setting the metaphor aside, let’s get down to business. While I have a great deal of experience spending wellness funds, it’s my EPIC teammates who work with clients and carriers to see if wellness funds are available. I’ll turn it over to Briana to provide insights on some of our benchmarking around wellness funds and where to start the conversation with your carrier.
At EPIC, the Financial and Marketing team works diligently to ascertain wellness funds for our clients.
Beyond improving employees’ health, putting these wellness dollars to work can drive down claim costs and generate savings for your health plan. This year, the EPIC New York financial team surveyed clients to develop a benchmark of their various wellness fund arrangements. We found that wellness funds are available to employers of any size, with every carrier, no matter if that employer is in a fully insured, minimum premium, or self-funded plan. However, the amount of those funds can vary greatly between carriers and depends heavily on the client’s size. Our team documented wellness funds starting at $1,600 and ranging up to $100,000 per year. The average wellness fund received was $18,000. Notably, 36% of the clients in this benchmark had a wellness fund exceeding $20,000 per year.
The conversation for establishing a wellness fund with your medical carrier can occur throughout the year.
During the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, we have the opportunity to ask competing carriers what threshold they can provide without any additional fees associated with, or built into, overall plan cost. We also discuss this at renewal time with current carriers. We use client claims and demographic data to leverage rates and wellness funds to support initiatives that will benefit both employees and the client in the long-term. Wellness funds are an important tool in the strategic plan to drive down medical costs – and it’s imperative to have a laid-out design that will provide the most impact in overall health and savings. Back to you, Claire!
Once you’ve secured your wellness fund – or discovered you already have one in place for 2020 – it’s time to spend it.
This is where our wellness consulting services can help. This year, as you can imagine, has been a strange year for spending wellness funds as onsite events are largely unavailable. Here are a couple of quick insights to get you started:
- Much of wellness has shifted to virtual programming. There are more traditional online platforms for you to consider, though they often come with price tags out-of-reach of most wellness funds. I’m speaking more to virtual seminars, fitness classes, even trivia nights! There are a lot of options out there.
- Secondly, most carriers are now allowing wellness funds to cover the cost of COVID-19-related expenses. You’re likely buying more masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes than ever before and wellness funds can be used to reimburse you. Check with your carrier to learn more about what’s approved for your wellness funds in general and for COVID-19. Each carrier is a little different, so I would recommend getting your expenses approved before any spending to avoid frustrations in the future.
We hope this magic tree is available to you to help get your wellness program off the ground or to enhance your current success! Our team is always ready to help.
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EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.
Senior Account Executive, Wellness – New York, NY
Account Manager, Employee Benefits – New York, NY