Corporate wellness programming is on the rise for many American employers. Lifestyle choices such as smoking, sedentary behavior, poor nutrition, obesity, and stress account for more than have of premature deaths reported on yearly basis. Moreover, chronic diseases are prevalent amongst one third of working-age Americans, accumulating to over 75% of the nation’s annual health care cost. The constant increase in health cost has had a huge impact on employers. According to Udall-Bono Healthy Workforce Bill Offers Biz Important Tax Breaks (2007), in 2006, total annual health care spending is an estimated $2.2 trillion while the average employer medical costs increased 72 percent between 2002 and 2006. By 2014 our country’s total health care expenditures are estimated to reach $3.6 trillion. In turn, corporate wellness programs are being implemented to help create a healthier workforce and decrease employer health care cost through wellness promotion and disease prevention. This paper will discuss the background, regulation, and future direction of corporate wellness programming.
The leading cause of deaths amongst American's in the early twentieth century was due to infectious diseases. However, since the early 1990's that health concern has change to an even bigger one, unhealthy lifestyles. Diseases such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type II diabetes, cancer, and obesity are the largest contributors to death amongst Americans in today’s society. In addition, healthcare related costs have been on the rise for employers, leading to trillions of dollars spent annually. For example, in 2001, cardiovascular disease resulted in more than $129 billion in lost productivity in the United States; according to the U.S. Surgeon General, 75 percent of all illnesses can be attributed to lifestyle-related causes (Lucuski, 2007). In the past, employers focused on resources that would aid the treatment of employees that where sick or disabled, however due to reduced margins, global outsourcing, and the study increase of health cost this method is no longer
efficient. Consequently, research shows most morbidity and mortality in relation to chronic illnesses can be prevented; the key to reducing employer health care cost is prevention. Hence, keeping healthy employees healthy through wellness programming will be the new method towards saving dollars associated with employee illness.
Individual behavior and lifestyle choices such as poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and tobacco use have presented the largest impact on the development of chronic conditions. Moreover, a high calorie diet combined with low physical activity commonly leads to excessive body weight which in turn causes obesity. Obesity is the main contributor of type II diabetes, congestive heart failure, stoke, and hypertension. Tobacco use, also contributes to these same diseases as well as cancer. Furthermore, many companies have begun...