September, 2010: Employer Provided Health Care may soon replace the most often quoted oxymorons such as "military intelligence" or "jumbo shrimp" as a 14% increased cost in employer provided health plans has been placed squarely on the shoulders of their employees this year.
The average employer provided health care family plan costs employees $4,000 out of pocket, up 14% according to recently released figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. That is the largest increase since 1999 and marked a departure from the normal 50/50 split between employers and employees.
The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) reports that total spending on health care was $2.3 trillion last year, equivalent to $7600 per person. Health insurance premiums for a family of four sky rocketed to $12,100 during this same period and single coverage premiums averaged more than $4,400 annually.
One tactic to save on health care is to buy high deductible "catastrophic" health insurance which is significantly less expensive (as much as 50%-75% less) however this strategy must be combined with a commitment towards exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Walking has been shown clinically to prevent the onset of our nations leading diseases including Type 2 diabetes and some of the most virulent strains of cancer. "Consistent daily walking has been shown as an effective means of warding off disease, maintaining health and significantly decreasing the need for medical treatment, yet most Americans walk much less than the minimum recommended guidelines of 10,000 steps a day set by the Surgeon General due to the sedentary nature of our employment. As a result we have an overweight population with all of the health concerns that accompany issues of obesity," states TrekDesk founder Steve Bordley.
The good news is that exercise does not have to be overly strenuous. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that walking three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes reduces the risk of mortality from disease by 57%. Excerpts of numerous medical studies illustrating the the positive impact of consistent daily walking in preventing numerous diseases can be found at TrekDesk's website.
Unfortunately 2/3 of the American population is now categorized as overweight according to the CDC and less than 10% of the population is exercising on a regular basis. While Congress must focus on ridding our health care system of excessive administrative costs, fraud and mismanagement there must also be a call for personal action. "Prevention through a healthier lifestyle and exercise should play an integral role in our growing health care crisis but few politicians wish to risk the backlash of telling Americans they need to get out of their chairs and start moving," according to Bordley.
Desperate for answers, some state governments are considering instituting a "carrot and stick approach" to medical insurance programs. Alabama recently enacted a $300.00 annual increase for health care premiums to state employees that do not meet minimum health requirements and are unwilling to join their state wellness plan. Other nations are instituting more stringent guidelines as well. Japan has implemented a national program fining corporations if their employees do not meet specific weight and waistline guidelines.
Rising health care costs and insurance premiums are taking the availability of health care out of the hands of millions and placing a tremendous burden on our economy according to the NCHC, accounting for approximately 16% of our current GDP and expected to rise to 20% of GDP in eight years.
With health care costs rising at 2-3 times the rate of inflation a proactive emphasis on prevention seems more critical now more than ever before. Treadmill desks offer a solution which empowers employees to take control of their personal health and reduce their costs of medical care at the same time.