Financial wellness was not viewed as a need best addressed through employee benefits programs 25 or 30 years ago. Today it is. In fact, financial wellness and standard health benefits are subject to a symbiotic relationship when combined. It is a good relationship, too.
No doubt Americans are stressed about many things. Finances are but one of them. Unfortunately, ongoing stress can lead to very real health problems. The more a person suffers from ill health, the higher their annual healthcare spend is likely to be.
Stress Rules the Day
The American Psychological Association produces a monthly survey gauging stress in America. Each month's snapshot tells us how we are doing. The January 2021 snapshot shows that stress in America is at its highest level since last April.
According to the survey, 84% of us report feeling stress-related emotions at some point within the previous two weeks. Those emotions include anxiety, anger, and sadness. What are we stressed about? According to the American Psychological Association, the top five stress points are:
- The nation's future
- The coronavirus crisis
- Global political unrest
- The current U.S. political climate
- The January 6 events in Washington.
According to a USA Today post published in late 2020, more than 68% of us experienced some sort of financial setback in 2020. Approximately 38% say they will spend 2021 in survival mode, just trying to keep themselves financially above water.
Stress and Human Health
It is no secret that ongoing stress is harmful to human health. In its early stages, excessive stress can lead to mental disorders including depression or anxiety. Over time, it can also contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more.
Scientists have studied the relationship between stress and health for decades. We know that people are less healthy when they are subject to more stress. We also know that reducing stress is one of the best ways to improve one's health.
Financial Wellness & Health Benefits
This all leads to the symbiotic relationship between financial wellness and health benefits. Employers are starting to offer financial wellness benefits because employees are demanding them. These are benefits designed to help employees get their finances back on track and keep them on track.
The goal of offering financial wellness benefits is to help employees improve their overall financial positions. Solid financials offer a lot of tangible benefits, not the least of which is less stress. From a holistic standpoint, less stress leads to fewer health issues and lower annual healthcare spend.
This relationship between financial wellness and health benefits works in the other direction, as well. When employers provide workers with adequate health benefits, there is less financial stress to deal with. Employees are not worried about how they are going to pay medical bills. They are not likely to skip treatment because they cannot pay for it.
Adequate health benefits reduce financial stress. Less financial stress means fewer health issues and subsequent healthcare services. The end result is brilliant: both employee and employer spend less on healthcare over the long term.
Add Financial Wellness Benefits
The lesson to be learned here is one of the importance of financial wellness benefits. As a broker, you should be encouraging your clients to add such benefits to their employee packages. It is clear that Americans are stressed out. It is also clear that stress leads to ill health and higher healthcare costs. By combining financial wellness benefits with adequate health benefits, your clients can save money by helping to alleviate stress and the health issues that come with it.