What about Wellness?

By Beth Rusert, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, Maritz

This week, President Obama vowed to push through healthcare reform even if it takes the reconciliation process.  His final proposal contains ideas from both sides of the aisle, including the most-recent Republican-backed malpractice reforms and fraud/abuse/waste investigations. 

Despite last week’s summit and the subsequent “public push,” much of Washington’s rhetoric continues to center around the funding mechanism for healthcare.   
 
Unfortunately, the conversation rarely covers the elephant in the room – Americans themselves.  WE are the biggest threat to healthcare in the United States, not Democrats or Republicans.  With 74% of healthcare claims attributable to individual lifestyle choices, the behaviors we engage in are contributing to rising healthcare costs. 

If we don’t tackle this issue in concert with other reform measures, we’re doomed to fail. Americans must make healthier choices, but where do we start?  

First, we must all understand that we are active participants in reforming healthcare for ourselves and our country.  As a professional woman who works full time and has a husband and two children, I understand how difficult it is to make healthy lifestyle choices every day.  Neuroscience studies show that our brains must work extra hard to learn a new behavior, and even harder to sustain that behavior.  That’s why the promises of good health or even looking good aren’t effective motivators for most of us to eat right and exercise on a regular basis.  People need ongoing support and the right incentives to adopt healthy habits for life.        
 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently said, “This bill is about prevention and wellness.”  On this point, I hope she’s right and that the final legislation gives Americans the support they need to get onboard the wellness train, and stay there.   
 
It’s important for the business community to be engaged. If you’re interested in wellness incentive programs, check out Maritz’ whitepaper or visit our website.