Originally posted October 1, 2014 by Elizabeth Galentine on http://ebn.benefitnews.com.
When shopping around for a wellness program partner, it’s the details that matter. All comprehensive wellness platforms should consist of four core programs — wellness, disease management, EAP and work life components — says Yale Mallinger of wellness company HMC-HealthWorks, but it’s what makes up those components that will make or break a plan. Therefore, advisers must do their due diligence when choosing a wellness provider to work with, he says.
For example, most reputable wellness companies will offer two types of diagnostic questionnaires, behavioral and medical, but advisers should request to sample those tests themselves, Mallinger says. “You should be able to go to their portal and participate, get a score, test it out,” he told attendees during a breakout session Tuesday at EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit.
Mallinger also recommended breaking down the diagnostic testing process itself. For medical testing, ask the vendor if blood tests are done intravenously, through a finger prick, or both and what the benefits of each method are for a particular employer client. Some employers will want the instant results that a finger prick can provide, while others will be willing to wait a week or two for more comprehensive results from lab, says Mallinger, project director at HMC-HealthWorks.
Then, for clients interested in the lab testing route and submitting the testing to their insurance carrier as a preventative health measure, Mallinger recommends going even further by having their insurance company do a trial run with that billing code to ensure it works.
The whole package
As you look at potential wellness partners, consider whether or not the company offers unbundled plans, Mallinger continues. Although he says “it does no good to put a wellness program in place if you don’t take care of all the problem [areas] for employees,” such as debt management and legal assistance, not every employer will want the top-tier package.
Presenting the benefits of a wellness plan in an unbundled format allows the clients to pick and choose for themselves, he says. Such benefits include:
- A personal health and wellness portal;
- A health library;
- Health risk assessments;
- Mobile app capabilities;
- Reporting capabilities;
- Diabetic supplies;
- Concierge services;
- Coaching services;
- Disease management;
- Biometric screenings;
- Employee assistance programs, and more.
Additionally, as far as mobile technology, every wellness company has an app — “it’s what they do with it and what you can do with it” that counts, Mallinger says.
Some apps have the ability to report a range of statistics to employers, such as what people are reading or if they take a health assessment, he explains, adding that such reports are beneficial not only on an annual basis but also quarterly.
In turn, Mallinger says some wellness companies are primarily software-focused, so advisers should be sure to analyze the type and quality of any wellness coaches they provide. What kind of training do they have? How are they certified? “Take the time to break it down,” he says, and never be afraid to ask for credentials.
There are currently at least three lawsuits related to wellness plans going through the U.S. court system, Mallinger points out, so advisers should also be cautious that plans are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and others.