According to a recent article in the Employee Benefit News, HRA’s are unnecessary for Corporate Wellness Plan design. Despite this assertion, health risk assessments are still widely used by most wellness program providers as the key to starting the process of health improvement at companies. However, according to the article, HRA’s are highly flawed in their approach due to sample bias, which skews the results, poor respondent memories in answering the survey questions, and a lack of trust by the respondent in what the employer will do with the information that is ultimately collected.
The article goes on to state that the chances are one’s employee population likely suffers through the same or similar ailments to the larger population as a whole, so why complicate matters with an HRA that many employees view with skeptical eye? The answer likely lies in the fact that making wellness more complicated usually equates to bigger, and usually unnecessary, fees for the wellness program provider, usually at the expense of the employer. The entire article is well worth reading, but in our view here’s the key excerpt:
Even if you admit to some bias in how people answer, proponents will still argue that HRAs provide the necessary, even crucial, data needed to design effective wellness programs. While valid for treating diseases, this model is not applicable to wellness. Here’s why: Regardless of your age, income, family size or even health status, the wellness prescription is always the same:
- Exercise daily for an hour.
- Eat well, mostly freshly harvested raw plants.
- Sleep more than seven hours a night.
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, abusing alcohol or prescription or other drugs, and avoiding unsafe or polluted environments/situations.
Designing wellness programs simply does not require HRA data. If you work in wellness, have you ever noticed that the programs suggested happen to match those available from the vendor?
If you are the head of wellness for an employer, did the HRA data really provide you with new insights? Likely not. Probably, you knew what the program would look like before you started.
Armed with this information, why not skip the HRA together and just start a FUN, engaging, easy to administer, and AFFORDABLE, virtual exercise or wellness challenge, or better yet, even our own “5-minute” health survey, with your employees for mere pennies on the dollar in comparison with an expensive, complicated, clinical, and highly unnecessary HRA?