It’s open enrollment season, and with it comes a menu of benefits from your employer. Now, in addition to what is often considered standard, is a wellness benefit. Wellness programs are becoming common in the workplace, however what constitutes participating in wellness may not be as ordinary as you think.
Over half of large employers that offer wellness programs include medical tests usually referred to as biometrics. In order to participate in biometric screening, employees will need to submit to blood tests at a doctor’s office, lab or workplace health fair. Is biometric screening customary in employer sponsored wellness programs? Do these blood tests really help improve health?
That is hard to quantify definitively, although this hasn’t slowed the growth in biometric screenings in employer wellness programs. These programs must be voluntary, however many employers link financial incentive to employee participation; a small percentage of employers actually tie rewards or penalties to specific health goals.
What can these screenings help employers do to monitor their employee’s health care? Asking employees about smoking, checking blood pressure and assessing body mass index aren’t particularly controversial, but biometric screenings may be. Among the tests commonly included in workplace programs is cholesterol screening. Medical groups differ on the best age to start and the frequency of testing for cholesterol. Biometric screening for cholesterol, among other components of the screening, may not make sense for younger employees. The method by which cholesterol is measured may impact the screening and lead to unnecessary medication. Many employers are now using a more comprehensive study including more risk factors to fine tune the cholesterol screening. Also included in some screenings are blood glucose levels and other factors which may indicate diabetes or a risk of developing the condition.
Even with differing recommendations on the benefits of biometric screenings, employees who participate in wellness programs should discuss the test results with their doctors in order to get the most out of these programs. Staying well helps employers and employees
For additional information, contact EAB HealthWorks.