The Other Fine Print

A conversation last week made me realize that there may be some things that employer health coverage provides that people are not aware of. There has been a big push toward workplace “wellness” programs in the last few years. After all, prevention of a condition is much cheaper than treatment. (In this case, I mean conditions that are affected by diet and exercise.) And if we are going to pay through the nose for that coverage, we might as well take a page from the insurers’ playbook and squeeze every last cent we can out of them.

What a wellness program offers will be based on the size of the company and the budget they decide is reasonable. It could be something as uncomplicated as social support for a more active life, or something as complex as a whole separate app and financial compensation for giving them your biometrics (blood pressure, height, weight, and routine annual labs).

Here are some of the things that I might take advantage of if they were offered by my employer:

  • Discounts on gym membership – social exercise is often more motivating than solo exercise, and if they’re paying for part, I don’t have to feel so guilty when I stop going.

  • Onsite fitness options (gym, yoga classes, nutritionist) – so much easier if you can work out without leaving the building.

  • Free on-site flu shots – people with conditions are automatically high risk because our immune systems are compromised. Besides, my dad yells at me every time I even think about skipping. Not that I am thinking about it.

  • Discounted memberships to programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers that offer support to those wanting to lose weight.

  • Financial compensation for biometric screenings – my employer offered enough this year to get a family member a really nice 40th birthday present just for numbers my doctor took as routine at one of my regular visits.

  • Nap rooms – the solution to cranky babies or false fire alarms in the middle of the night.

  • Free massages – need I say more? (Yes, some companies actually do this)

If you are unaware of such benefits, check your employee handbook or email your human resources rep for more information.

These programs are often administered in conjunction with your health insurance. If you are vaguely aware that there might be benefits like these, but it seems like too much effort to track it down, just take a look at a pay stub to remind yourself exactly how much you are paying to keep yourself in good health. Tell me that number isn’t a good motivator.

Plus you might actually end up healthier.