- Young adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26 years old
- It’s easier and less expensive to buy insurance through the exchange if employer does not offer insurance coverage
Some consulting firms estimate that 7.5 million adults age 19-26 have or will gain insurance through HCR.
But it remains to be seen if young people will:
- Use insurance for regular preventive care
- Develop a relationship with a primary care physician or use pharmacy clinics or walk-in urgent care instead
- Practice wise health care consumerism — since about a third of them have been uninsured since they graduated from college
If your wellness program doesn’t currently serve the needs of your younger employees — or if you’re not sure whether or not it does — this is a great opportunity to get them involved, educated, and more engaged in their health.
But why? Aren’t they pretty much healthy, anyway?
1. Yes, but they still have health risks
Young people are healthier on average than your older employees and less likely to suffer from high cholesterol, hypertension, heart disease and other chronic conditions.
But there’s still plenty of room for improvement — and you have a unique opportunity to stop bad habits and health problems before they become damaging and costly. Problems like:
- Heavy drinking
- Stress management
- Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues
- Weight management
- Sedentary habits
I can think of a dozen other examples and I bet you can too. Are they educated about nutrition and smart grocery shopping or do they subsist on frozen pizza and take-out? Do they protect their skin from sun damage or hit the tanning bed regularly? Do they buckle their seat belt when driving or wear a helmet when riding their bicycle?
2. You can manage the spectrum
In general, health risks flow from low to high. So do health care costs.
Low-risk employees, as younger employees tend to be, won’t stay low-risk forever.
- As many as 10-20% of low-risk employees will move to a higher risk category in a year
- The best worksite wellness programs address both high-risk and low-risk employees
Make it a strategic priority to keep healthy people healthy.
3. Include young employees in your wellness efforts
The best way to get young employees involved in workplace wellness efforts might be just inviting them to be involved.
Do your young employees have a seat at the table?
- Do you have a young employee on your wellness committee?
- Do you take their opinions and suggestions seriously?
What do they want in a wellness program?
- Yoga classes? Healthier cafeteria food? A smartphone app instead of a self-care book?
- Longer breaks so they can go to the gym? Bike racks?
- Clearer and more accessible information about how their insurance plan works and what it covers? (This is a big one, especially for the first-time insured)
- What incentives would make them more likely to participate?
How’s your current program working for them?
- Do they use it?
- What do they like? What do they dislike? What did they not even know you offered?
- Don’t make assumptions: Just because you offer new technology channels or social networking features doesn’t mean your younger employees are using it.
You won’t know unless you ask. Send out a survey, recruit a young employee wellness summit, or just drop by to chat.
Once you have a program in place, don’t forget to check in periodically and ask how your program is going and how it can be improved!