The results of the latest Health Tracking Poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation released online Tuesday showed that while 76% of the public agree with the idea of employers offering wellness programs to promote healthy behaviors among workers, 62% think it is not appropriate for companies to charge workers more in premiums for health coverage if they choose not to participate.
'Don't charge me for not getting with the program,' workers say in survey
In addition, an even larger share, about 74%, felt it was wrong for employers to impose financial penalties in the form of higher premiums if employees did not meet health goals outlined in the wellness program.
The results mirrored those found among insured individuals who received their coverage through their employer, where 80% believed wellness programs were a good idea, but 62% disagreed with companies charging workers higher premiums for not participating. Likewise, 75% did not think it was appropriate for employers to impose higher premiums if workers failed to meet health goals.
The survey was conducted June 12-18 and included responses from more than 1,200 adults nationwide ages 18 and older.
Among adults surveyed who reported receiving health coverage through their employer, nearly half said their employer offered a wellness program, of which, 63% reported participating.
Popular among large corporations for many years, workplace wellness programs have been on the rise among mid-sized and small companies for more than a decade. According to a study released last year by the RAND Corp., half of all U.S. employers with at least 50 workers had a wellness program in 2012.
Despite their prevalence within companies, questions have been raised about the overall effectiveness of wellness programs. A 2013 survey that included responses from benefit managers from close to 900 large employers in 15 countries conducted by the consulting firm Towers and Watson and the National Business Group of Health found that less than half ranked their own wellness programs successful. A large part of the problem as they saw it was a lack of employee participation, where only about half of the workers in the companies surveyed took the initial step of completing a health risk questionnaire while 13% took an active role in a program.
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