Middle Market Employers See Twofold Increase In Wellness Programs In 2013

Just over 19 percent of the four most popular insurance plans (consumer-driven health plans (CDHP), preferred provider organizations (PPO), health maintenance organizations (HMO), and point-of-service plans (POS)) offer a wellness program, with CDHPs continuing to lead the trend with 26.9 percent offering such programs, according to recent research from United Benefit Advisors. The highest percentage of plans offering wellness programs came from employers with 1,000 or more employees (58.2 percent); however, middle market employers with 100 to 199 employees increased their wellness offerings by approximately 12.5 percent in 2013—double that of any other employer size subset. Surprisingly, employers with 1,000-plus employees decreased their wellness offerings by 0.7 percent.

Of the nearly 11,000 employers surveyed, 19.2 percent offer some sort of wellness program. Health risk assessments (HRAs) remain the most popular offering with 81 percent of plans participating; 62.3 percent offer incentive awards (a 3.1 percent decrease); and 61.3 percent offer a physical exam (a 1.1 percent decrease). The programs that saw the biggest increase were health coaching at 56.2 percent (a 4.9 percent increase) and online wellness portals at 54.7 percent (a 4.7 percent increase).

“The key to successful wellness with high employee engagement is to develop programs employees actually want to participate in,” said Lisa Weston, director of employee wellness promotion for the Bagnall company, a UBA Partner Firm. “Carefully planned wellness programs can be extremely effective, but you must assess employees’ needs with an HRA or biometric data and also assess their desires with interest and incentive surveys. The goal is to offer something for everyone, make it appealing and very accessible. Of course, constant benefit communication is also a key element to success, because in order to use these programs, employees have to know about them.”

“Decreasing health care costs is important; but when it comes to wellness, we really are more interested in how employers are using wellness data to make the case of boosted engagement,” continued Weston. “Value is placed on return on investment in the long run, which can be measured in terms of worker productivity. The question employers should ask themselves is, ‘What target am I trying to hit?’ Then they should plan their program accordingly.”

For more information, visit http://analytics.ubabenefits.com/news/bid/342173/National-Survey-Middle-Market-Employers-See-Twofold-Increase-in-Wellness-Programs-in-2013.
Visit our News Library to read more news stories.