Starting January 1, the state will give businesses a tax credit for starting a worksite wellness program for their employees.
“It might be offering a healthy eating seminar at work,” said Marina Lebo, General Manager of Healthtrax Fitness and Wellness in West Springfield. “It might be offering an exercise class during lunch hour, offering a program where employees can all go work together at on site facility and have a class for them.”
To be eligible for the tax credit, any worksite wellness program must fit into guidelines established by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The tax credit is for 25% of the cost of implementing the program, up to $10,000 per year. Lebo said the payoffs from these programs for employers can be far reaching.
“They’re going to benefit initially because they’re going to get camaraderie, morale and another employee benefit to offer their employees,” said Lebo. “But in the long run, they’re going to benefit because their workers comp will hopefully be less, their health insurance costs will be contained a little bit. And they’ll have more fit employees with less time out, less sick time, less leave time, less hospital costs, everything along the way.”
And the costs add up. The department of public health said in a report that one in three people in the state has a chronic condition such as obesity or heart disease. In 2005 alone, hospital costs related to chronic diseases was over 3 billion.
To help businesses estimate health cost savings from a program, the state has an online calculator.