Published today in The North Bay Business Journal, Arrow Benefits Group Partner Keith McNeil is quoted in an article about the rising trend of workplace wellness programs.

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Providing wellness programs for employees is also a way for larger companies to lower their insurance rates.

“Once you get over 50 employees, the insurance company will look at the claims and lower the rate,” said Andrew McNeil, principal with Arrow Benefits Group in Petaluma. “It takes between three and five years of offering the programs to see any return on investment, however, and that can be an eternity for small employers.”

The majority of larger companies Arrow works with have wellness programs in place, McNeil said. Many small businesses (under 50 employees) don’t implement wellness programs as the program itself cannot directly affect the monthly health insurance premium. That’s because the premiums are a pooled risk, and filed by the health plans with the State of California. (The under 50 employees definition changes to under 100 employees in 2016.)

Still, while small employers that offer a wellness program can’t impact the cost of their group health insurance, a well-designed wellness program has the potential for reducing absenteeism as well as increasing employee morale. Larger employers that offer a wellness program may see over time a reduction in their medical rates (assuming the wellness program is implemented correctly) as the medical rates are tied to the overall health risk of the employees and their covered dependents, especially if the wellness program is targeted to specific medical problems such as obesity.

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