Finance News & Insights

New perspective on financial wellness: A safety program for your firm’s health benefits

A financial wellness program can be to your company’s health insurance what a safety program
is to workers’ comp: a strategic way to control costs.

That’s how Denise Winston, a financial expert and founder and CEO of Money Starts Here, encouraged employers to look at financial wellness programs during her presentation at ebn’s 29th Annual Benefits Forum & Expo in Nashville.

4 impact areas

And Winston offered some compelling reasons for that claim. Done correctly, an effective financial wellness program can help employers boost profit margins in four major categories:

  1. Healthcare costs: Financially fit employees use their healthcare benefits more wisely, which in turn reduces the risk of rate increases. Plus, when employees have less financial stress in their life research shows it leads to fewer health insurance claims. Finally, financially prepared staffers are less likely to work beyond the average retirement age, which reduces the cost of the higher comp and benefits packages for those older employees.
  2. Tax liability: Financially fit workers tend to participate fully in tax-advantaged programs like 401(k)s and HSAs, and that can reduce employers’ overall tax liability.
  3. Productivity: When employees aren’t constantly stressing over their finances, they’re more focused and productive, they ask HR fewer questions, and they’re less likely to jump ship and more likely to take on leadership positions within the company.
  4. Disability and workers’ comp claims: Employees are less distracted when they’re not worrying about their personal finances. That improves safety and can translate into decreased workers’ comp and disability claims in many cases.

Healthcare-specific training

While Winston touched all of the areas most financial wellness programs tend to include — debt management, financial goals, budgeting, investing basics, etc. — she focused heavily on the importance of health insurance training during her presentation.

For financial wellness to effectively lower healthcare spending, employers should require or incentivize annual training on the topic.

Some healthcare-specific training topics financial wellness programs should cover on an annual basis:

  • Why health insurance is so important to employees’ financial life
  • How the ACA will impact workers health benefits and their paychecks
  • The most important terms and elements of a health insurance policy
  • How to shop and compare health insurance plans
  • The basics/benefits of HSAs, HRAs and FSAs
  • Practical advice on how to use their health care effectively
  • How to find a doctor and quality care facilities
  • Finding the best deals on prescription drugs, procedures and medical tests
  • Understanding their rights and how to get the care they’re entitled to, and
  • How to avoid the common and costly healthcare mistakes.
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