Employers increasingly use rewards, penalties to improve employee health
"Our national survey found that over 80 percent of responding employers are utilizing some form of incentives, with 41 percent using or planning to use outcomes-based incentives to increase engagement and participation as well as motivate health behaviors in employer-sponsored programs," said Larry Boress, president and CEO of the Midwest Business Group on Health. The nonprofit business group of large, self-insured public and private employers just released the results of an online survey of nearly 100 employers.
More employers are likely to find ways to encourage improved health outcomes among their employees, as the Affordable Care Act next year will allow employers to increase their incentives from 20 to 30 percent of total coverage. For tobacco users, the ACA allows employers to increase the value up to 50 percent, the survey noted.
The survey showed that employers are also imposing penalties for poor health choices, especially smoking.
The most popular incentives or rewards for engaging in health and wellness programs were reduced premiums, gift cards, merchandise, and cash. The disincentives -- penalties -- for poor health choices included higher premiums and higher plan deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses.
Some 82 percent of respondents said they offer some type of incentives and/or disincentives. Of those, 40 percent use incentives, 6 percent use disincentives, and 37 percent use a combination.
An increasing percentage of employers are starting to use outcomes-based incentives such as reaching targeted biometric goals. Some 13 percent use outcomes-based incentives, and 28 percent said they are planning to do so in the next year or two. Of those who are, more than half said they tie incentives to both outcomes-based measures such as meeting specific targets like a body mass index of 25 and improvements in outcomes such as the percentage decrease in BMI, rather than just one or the other.
The vast majority of employers said they use on-site clinical screening programs to capture biometrics, especially for measuring blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, glucose, and waist circumference.
The employers said employee response has been positive. Seventy-one percent said their incentive strategy was very successful or successful while 45 percent said their disincentive strategy was very successful or successful.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 17, 2013
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