Amid all of the discussion regarding health reform and the uncertainty of its fate pending the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, companies are revisiting the benefits of wellness programs. Until recently, many companies had taken a stolid view of wellness programs, in some instances dismissing such programs as a waste of resources. On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the health reform as constitutional, however, wellness programs are worth a second look and could very well be a crucial way to maintain a healthy workforce and combat the rising costs of health coverage.

There are inherent benefits of a well-executed wellness program — namely, engendering a more productive workforce. Specifically, these programs are created to encourage a healthier lifestyle, with the expectation that such behavioral changes will, in turn, create a healthier workforce, resulting in increased employee productivity and lower employer insurance premiums. Because certain preventable health conditions, such as obesity and tobacco-related illnesses, are significantly contributing to the overall decline in worker health and rising expense of health care coverage, companies are responding by providing wellness services such as discounted gym memberships, incentive-based rewards programs, nutritional counseling and health coach services.

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