Healthcare and wellness are important to every American, business and to our federal government’s bottom line. Sharon (2010) stated, “Staying healthy reduces the demand for health care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, medical care for persons with chronic disease accounts for 75% of the dollars spent as a nation on medical care. Today’s most serious and expensive health problems are caused, in large part, by poor lifestyle choices: tobacco use, diets high in fat and sugar, inadequate physical activity, and drug and alcohol use.”
While the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) does currently provide funding to North Carolina and 24 other states to address the growing obesity epidemic and other chronic diseases, a broader look at wellness, defined by Henderson as “a state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual’s potential,” would be beneficial to reducing the tremendous strain the cost of healthcare puts on the United States budget. North Carolina’s Secretary of the Division of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Kathleen Sebelius, stated at the Commonwealth Fund’s 12th Annual Symposium on Health Care Policy, “When we talk about health care, we always keep in mind that we are not just talking about saving money or increasing efficiency. We are also talking about providing a higher quality of life. When people are healthy, they miss fewer days of work and get more done. They spend more time at home and less time in doctors’ offices. They can take care of their grandkids. They can play softball...They can get a good night of sleep. ” Thinking of healthcare and wellness in those terms, a federally funded initiative to encourage each person who takes part in the US healthcare system to remain “well” would be a significant step in the right direction.
Benavides noted that “wellness programs are not a quick fix solution to years of employee disregard for their health condition. In most cases at least a two year window is necessary to begin to see positive results. In any case, it is an option that provides a sustainable way to lower health care costs and improve the physical and mental well being of employees.” Under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, $15 billion over 10 years and another $2 billion each year to follow was allotted for healthcare and evidence-based outcomes (to generate and fund such wellness incentives as this paper proposes). Likewise, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allotted $160 billion total toward healthcare and wellness with $650 million specifically granted to address chronic disease strategies.
With those funding sources in mind, it would be feasible for Secretary Sebelius to present a wellness incentive such as the one to the House of Representatives for their consideration and for the reallottment of those federal dollars...