Employers increasingly are offering programs to help workers become healthier and to cut health insurance costs, but many employees and their dependents are seemingly unaware of them, according to a new survey of 3,000 consumers from Aon Hewitt, The Futures Company and the National Business Group on Health.
Thirty-six percent of consumers did not participate in any health program or service offered by their employer, such as on-site clinics or pharmacies, health assessments and employee assistance programs. Blood tests and biometric screenings were the most popular offering, garnering 61 percent participation, followed by health risk assessments, with 57 percent participation.
Despite the programs, 60 percent of workers think their company is only moderately supportive to not supportive at all when it comes to their efforts to be healthy, the survey found.
"Employers may be missing the mark when it comes to health improvement programs being offered to workers," Cathy Tripp, managing principal of Health & Benefits at Aon Hewitt, said in a press statement. "Workers need to see that their efforts to become healthy are supported by the company. Developing a culture where leaders care and support healthful living communicates to workers that this matters to the company."
Many employers offer wellness and other programs to cut health insurance costs. A growing number are introducing incentives for participating and reaching goals, and penalties for unhealthy habits, such as smoking.
More than half of consumers say cash rewards and other incentives are the best way to motivate them.
Workers may also need a reality check. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 34 percent of U.S. adults are obese, only 24 percent of survey participants say they are obese. More than three-quarters, 76 percent, rate their health as "good" or "very good."