Well at Work
Why Some Companies are Paying Their Employees to Get Healthier
Employer-provided health care benefit costs are expected to rise seven percent in 2013, and employers are looking for ways to control costs and offering incentives to healthier employees, according to a new survey by the National Business Group on Health [EmployeeBenefitNews.com].
In a survey of 82 large companies held prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act in June, employers said they expect to make the following changes in 2013:
- 60 percent plan to increase the percentage of the premium paid by employees.
- 40 percent plan to increase in-network deductibles.
- 33 percent plan to increase out-of-network deductibles.
- 32 percent plan to increase out-of-pocket maximums.
While employers continue to adopt cost-sharing measures, 43 percent of them are now considering consumer-directed health plans (CDHP) to be more effective than shifting costs to their employees. Nineteen percent believe wellness programs to be the most effective cost-controlling tactic, and only nine percent of respondents reported employee cost-sharing as the most effective tactic.
When it comes to engaging employees in healthy behaviors, employers continue to explore the best ways to include financial rewards in their wellness programming. The survey found that:
- 48 percent use incentives to encourage engagement.
- 44 percent provide an incentive to curb tobacco use.
- 29 percent base awards on achieving specific cholesterol or BMI levels.
- 22 percent apply surcharges if employees don’t participate.
The survey also reported that employers plan to boost the incentive amount for maintaining a healthy lifestyle or participating in a wellness program. For employers offering incentives, the average amount employees can earn will jump 50 percent from $300 in 2012 to $450 in 2013, and incentives for dependents will increase from $250 in 2012 to $375 in 2013.
“It’s encouraging that more employers are taking measures to control health care costs through programs and reward systems,” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, vice president of nutrition and research at Core Performance. “Financial incentives are powerful tools to increase engagement, but it’s critical that programming creates meaningful engagement so that the focus is not just on the money. It‘s also important to focus on creating programs that meet people where they are along the wellness continuum and provides them with simple strategies to upgrade their habits for long-term health, performance, and health care cost savings.”