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Monday, July 26, 2010

HEALTHCARE IN BUSINESS: Can I Have My Cake and Eat It Too?

Healthcare In Business with Ruth Lycke

As business owners the health of our company and the health of our employees is of the utmost importance. A healthy employee is a happier employee. In other words they work better, are less stressed, produce more, and are more cost effective. Lets take a closer look at employees, and more importantly, their healthcare and health insurance. You typically only think about employee health, healthcare, and health insurance when benefit packets are discussed annually and if anything happens that changes company cost structures.

After the law was passed, companies across the country came out of the woodwork and stated how the new law would drastically increase their expenses. AT&T Inc. announced it would book $1 billion in first-quarter costs because of the new bill and would consider changing the health benefits. 3M Co. announced how it would record a one-time non-cash charge of up to $90 million in the first quarter as a result of the healthcare law. Numerous companies also anticipate more tax increases in the years to come.

Ever wonder where these companies were before the bill was signed into law? The fact remains that no matter how large companies are affected, small and emerging companies are being decimated. They are forced with laying off employees, reducing growth prospects, stretching staff, or becoming dependent on a flawed government system of healthcare. Any way you look at it, healthcare becomes a critical factor in new or emerging enterprises.

One of the misconceptions we often have about the health of our bodies is the importance, or lack of it, that we assign to it. Lets begin by agreeing that “health” by definition is the general condition of the body or mind, especially in terms of the presence or absence of illnesses, injuries, or impairments.

Why is this so important? As the head of a small or emerging business we place a great deal of importance on a small number of people. The smaller the business the more important health is. A smaller enterprise does not have the luxury of spreading or shifting responsibilities on many… instead it is on the shoulders of a few or maybe even one. As a result that “health” of the individual becomes critically important to the business.

I want to take you to a level of health beyond preventive medicine. It would be nice if we were all 22 and had healthy bodies. As a former nurse and paramedic I can tell you that most people prior to a sudden or catastrophic disease will tell you they were perfectly healthy. The reality is quite different.

The following are the leading causes of illness and disease:
  • Obesity

  • Poor diet

  • Lack of exercise

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • GI disorders

  • Tobacco products

  • Alcohol & drug abuse
Please keep in mind that almost all disease processes begin in our 20’s and 30’s and 25% of people die before ever reaching retirement. Does anyone in your organization fit any of these categories.

How does health impact business and the bottom line? Health needs to be focused on outcome, access and cost. By utilizing destination healthcare in these ways you can lower costs for sure... but there has to be incentive for the employee beyond cost. They have to know that they are getting the best care possible. Not only can they look at ways to maintain health in the body through preventive care but true integrated medicine promotes healing to occur and health to be attained and maintained. By implementing true integrated medicine I am referring to the best in both western and eastern treatments, surgery, or rehab. In making “destination healthcare” a part of your business, you can not only prevent costly healthcare insurance rate hikes but secure your business future, improve employee productivity, and in many cases lower overall business costs. Next month… a healthcare quiz.

For more information, please visit Ruth's TNNWC Bio.

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