Controlling health costs has long been a key focus for southeastern Wisconsin organizations. As someone who has spent an entire career in the insurance industry, I’m well aware of how those costs affect business and, ultimately, the community.
That’s why it’s been so gratifying to be part of Milwaukee’s Well City initiative, and to see the initial successes of the endeavor.
If you’re not aware of it, Milwaukee has achieved Well City designation – a tremendous positive for the city, its residents and its businesses.
Milwaukee is one of only 10 cities nationwide to achieve Well City designation.
Local organizations involved in our Well City campaign employ more than 50,000 people – that’s 50,000 people who are part of a strategic effort to improve lifestyles and control health care costs.
The benefits of the Well City program are very long-termed. As David Hunnicutt, president of the Wellness Council of America, said here upon Milwaukee’s designation as a Well City, simple wellness efforts can have a big impact.
Simply walking 30 to 45 minutes per day – not necessarily all at once – can delay the onset of age-related disabilities by 10 to 12 years. Walking can be a magic potion that can improve lifestyles and slash health care costs that are expected to take an increasingly bigger chunk of the economy.
Hunnicutt noted predictions that, by 2016, 19.6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will go to health care costs (compared to 16 percent for 2006), and that 70 percent of medical care costs will be for lifestyle related chronic illnesses.
Employers are in the health business, whether they like it or not. If you own a business or are responsible for managing its health care costs, or if you pay taxes, those costs of treating chronic illnesses could be onerous. Or you can take steps to engage a wellness program in your organization.
Wellness has strong results in possibly lowering costs related to short term disability, long term disability, absenteeism, worker’s compensation claims, avoidance of accidents and safety missteps, recruiting and related training expenses, and health insurance costs. Additionally, wellness programs tend to increase productivity and improve attendance.
The Milwaukee companies and organizations that are part of Well City have success stories, based on a wide variety of practices they put into place. These are organizations that are seeing a return on investment in wellness, and who have healthier, happier employees. You can learn from those successes by contacting Well City Milwaukee, or visiting its website at www.wellcitymilwaukee.org.
Let’s build upon Milwaukee’s Well City “silver” designation and strive toward gold and platinum. We’ll all be better off.
Arvid R. “Dick” Tillmar is the president of Tillmar Connect LLC, www.tillmarconnect.com, and has more than 45 years of experience in the health insurance industry.