Financial Incentives Encourage Healthy Employee Behavior

While a growing number of community association managers remain committed to offering health and productivity programs, they often are frustrated by the inability of many workers to change their health habits. To encourage healthy behaviors, many employers are tightening their requirements for workers to receive financial incentives, according to a survey released on  by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of large U.S. employers.

Currently, 53 percent of large employers offer financial incentives to workers who enroll in health engagement activities, such as weight management or smoking cessation programs. However, for many employers, participation alone is no longer enough to earn an incentive. Now, 37 percent reward only those workers who meet the company’s requirements for completion of a health engagement activity, and 29 percent only reward members who participate in multiple activities. Still, 93 percent have no plans to eliminate their health promotion programs, and 83 percent have no plans to cancel or delay adding new ones.

The 15th annual survey on purchasing power in health care also found that employers demonstrate dramatic differences in their ability to keep health care cost increases in check. The survey identified a group of “consistent performing” companies that have held cost increases below the median trend for the last four years. These consistent performers experienced a median cost increase of 2.1 percent over the last four years, compared with 6.8 percent for all companies.

The companies separate themselves from poorer performing companies in five areas: appropriate financial incentives, effective information delivery, metrics and evidence, quality care, and health and productivity. Consistent performers spent $6,536 per employee on health care benefits in 2009 — nearly $1,200 less per employee than for all survey respondents.

Other findings include:

  •  In 2010, 38 percent of companies will offer a health savings
    account, with an additional 7 percent expected to do so in 2011.
  •  In 2010, 46 percent of employers will provide coverage for use of
    retail clinics, up from 36 percent in 2009.
  • In 2010, 57 percent of employers will encourage plans and
    providers to provide workers with access to online medical records, up
    from 54 percent in 2009.

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