More large and midsized employers are using incentives—both carrots and sticks—to prod workers into participating in wellness programs, according to a survey.
More employers using incentives to push wellness programs
These incentives include cash, gift cards and contributions to health savings accounts. Also, employers are forcing workers to pay higher health plan costs if they don’t participate in health improvement programs such as biometric testing and lifestyle management.
The survey of 147 employers by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health included companies from industries such as transportation, healthcare, technology, entertainment, retail and energy. A total of 19 healthcare companies participated. The online survey was conducted between September and October of 2010, and employers had between 1,000 and 100,000 employees.
Some 62% of employers surveyed used incentives last year, up from 57% in 2009. And 12% of companies used negative incentives, such as raising health premiums, to encourage participation, according to the survey.
Employers are increasing the amount of incentives. They averaged a total of $430 per employee last year, a 65% increase from $260 in 2009. Half of the companies that provide incentives also offer them to dependents, and 56% of employers agreed that incentive programs had a better than expected success rate, the survey found.
“Employers know that a healthier workforce is more productive in the long term,” Sunit Patel, senior vice president of Fidelity’s Benefits Consulting business, said in a statement.
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