Anxious to reduce health care costs, 83 percent of large and mid-size employers offer incentives to motivate workers to improve their health, according to new survey findings from Aon Hewitt, a global human resource consulting firm.
The incentives include rewards, such as gift cards or premium discounts, for accomplishing tasks such as filling out health questionnaires or participating in health screenings. Incentives also include consequences for failing to participate in wellness programs or for maintaining unhealthy habits, such as smoking. A typical consequence is requiring employees to pay a larger share of the health insurance premium.
Of employers who offer incentives:
- 79 percent offer rewards.
- 5 percent offer consequences.
- 16 percent offer a mix of both rewards and consequences.
The survey found that 64 percent of employers offer cash incentives between $50 and $500, and 18 percent offer incentives of more than $500.
A growing number of employers now link incentives to results versus simple program participation. Of those companies that offer incentives, 56 percent require employees to participate in health programs, comply with medications or participate in activities like health coaching. Twenty-four percent offer incentives for progress toward or attainment of acceptable ranges for such measures as blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar and cholesterol. More than two-thirds say they are considering this approach in the next three to five years.