As a system output, “health” and its related components should have a more prominent role in the national health care debate. Much is at stake and the timing is critical. As a result of health care reform, employers will soon be deciding whether to
(1) continue to provide health insurance for their employees,
(2) opt-out of providing insurance and instead pay penalties and have employee insurance provided by health care exchanges or
(3) opt-out but continue to provide health and wellness related programs.
Employers’ understanding of the value of a healthy workforce will be critical when making these decisions, and could substantially transform the provision of health care benefits in the US health care system. Accordingly, this paper has three primary objectives:
1) to broaden the discussion from a focus limited to the cost of health services/products to one that encompasses the value that improved health creates in enhanced outcomes for businesses and their employees;
2) to propose the development of a conceptual model that ensures full measurement of the economic benefits of enhanced health and thereby ensures that comprehensive measures for defining and quantifying value are inclusive of all relevant outcomes; and
3) to sound a call to action in support of better evidence collection in order to capture the real value of interventions for employees and employers, in particular.