Hospitals and health and fitness systems are generally considered as companies that handle the ill and, more progressively, motivate precautionary health and fitness. However, hospitals are also companies and some of the greatest companies at that. In non-urban areas, a hospital is generally the prominent company, and it’s not unusual to find a health and fitness program with thousands of employees. With that comes a large benefit program for employees, which can be very costly and a big part of a hospital’s financial strategies. Consulting company Towers Watson lately finished its “2012 Hospital Industry Benefits Benchmarking Study,” which analyzed the benefits plan conditions of 48 hospitals and health and fitness systems across the country. The average number a survey participant was 5,000 to 10,000 employees, while the average size was 20,000 employees.
Two Towers Watson benefits experts, Joey Dizenhouse, senior health and fitness and group benefits advisor, and Sue DeFelice, senior pension benefits advisor say hospital benefit programs are going through a period of major change right now, just like those in the rest of the industry and in other sectors as well.
Medical centers are interested in guiding their employees to their own suppliers and services. The expenses of health and fitness benefits signify more than one-third of a hospital’s total benefits expenses for employees, higher than most other sectors. As both a company and provider, hospitals have a unique advantage over other types of companies: They can direct their employees to use the system’s “domestic providers” to save on expenses, Mr. Dizenhouse says. This strategy is growing in reputation for two reasons. Medical centers are able to better handle the health and fitness of their employees, and their payments for worker medical care reuse to their own program instead of going to a competitor. “If employees use household suppliers when possible, a medical care facility is able to cure employees as sufferers,” Mr. Dizenhouse says. “That has always been key.”
Group health and fitness programs are being targeted toward hospital employees. Through outreach and education, hospitals have ramped up their initiatives to advertise maintenance in their areas. If people regularly see their doctor, that may lead to less trips in the more costly hospital inpatient setting.