Wellness programs have become a popular tool for insurance companies and employers. Insurance companies market wellness programs as a method to reduce health insurance costs. Employers use these programs as both a benefit to employees and a cost-saving measure to reduce insurance costs, improve productivity and reduce absenteeism caused by injury or illness.

The term “wellness program” applies to a wide variety of programs designed to improve employee health, including fitness classes, smoking cessation programs, weight loss programs and medical exams with medical goals based upon the results. Many programs begin with a health-risk assessment in which employees complete a health questionnaire and/or submit to height, weight, cholesterol and other screenings to obtain an assessment of their risk factors and health status. Incentives are often provided for program participation and/or achievement of health goals.

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