Today or 30,000 Days to Make a Positive Health Impact



By: Patty Starr, President & CEO

If you live to be 82 years and seven weeks old, that amounts to 30,000 days of life. The cosmos is somewhere around 13.7 billion years old.

“This can make you feel like a completely insignificant part of this larger whole, or you can feel this wonderful sense of empowerment,” writes Bill Nye, a science educator, podcast host, and engineer. He and other thought leaders weighed in on the meaning of time in The Wall Street Journal.

Responding to the same question, playwright Ayad Akhtar says, “There really isn’t anything other than the now. I don’t mean some mumbo jumbo ‘being in the present’ or whatnot. I started to understand that my experience of the past and my experience of the future were both modes of being in the present and that I was never interacting with the past, except now, or any notion of the future except now.” 

Employees also recently shared what they think of their health in the now. Many reported they were in good health. However, every person’s definition of health is different. Each shared that health is measured based on how they feel in the moment, and if they feel healthy it is one less thing to worry about. It was reported that life gets in the way of long-term health. The focus remains on the now. If an employee feels healthy and all body parts are functioning as if they are healthy, there is no need to interact with a healthcare system that is complex, difficult, and time consuming and built around illness. In addition, there is a shared feeling that nothing good will come from the system if you are currently healthy. The consensus is health is a job and requires consistent work for which minimal immediate feedback is received.  And when there is feedback in the now, it manifests as aches and pains for which many do not have time.  

So, in the context of health benefits, how do these perspectives of time impact the way we buy and communicate healthcare benefits to employees or create a culture of health? If we are looking at our employees as if the only time they have is now, the present, and that could potentially extend to 30,000 days of life, what would we teach them—what would we offer to maintain, support, and develop long-term health?  Would the education remain about the financing of illness? 

Let’s step back and examine the benefits dialogue. How are we telling the story when we explain benefits to employees or roll out a wellness program like Step It Up or a lunch and learn program? What messages are we ultimately delivering to our employees?  

If we are going to support the holistic health of our employees, how do we start changing the story? Because ideally, we do not want people to get sick. The most cost-effective, overall outcome is to maintain employees’ health.  

When we understand our employee population and common chronic conditions they face, we can do a better job of building benefits that function as programs supporting employees’ long-term health. The good news is, there is data we can harness to pinpoint patterns in health and healthcare. We can determine the populations that are reporting as healthy, chronically ill, and everything between.   

Ask employees questions to find out what resources and programs are needed so they can focus on maintaining their health. For example, would a smoking cessation or weight loss and exercise initiative promote longevity? Would they use these programs? Building a story that goes beyond copays, premiums, and healthcare costs shows employees you are investing in them as individuals. 

We’re asking a lot of questions here—important ones. And we challenge you to do the same. If you could make an impact on the potential 30,000 days of your employees’ lives, what would you do differently? What would you do the same? Tell us what you think. We’d like to keep this conversation going.

Interested in a no-cost wellness program to keep employees healthy, engaged, and focused? Now is the perfect time to gather a team and register for our four-week Summer Step It Up Challenge! Register here.

About Health Action Council 
Health Action Council is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization representing mid-and large-size employers that enhance human and economic health through thought leadership, innovative services, and collaboration. It provides value to its members by facilitating projects that improve the quality and moderate the cost of healthcare purchased by its members for their employees, dependents, and retirees. Health Action Council also collaborates with key stakeholders – health plans, physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry – to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the community.

Posted: 5/11/2022 2:08:49 PM
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