Friday, August 10, 2012

More Employers Pay For Good Health Habits

Health risk questionnaires and other wellness programs are becoming a popular way for employers to encourage employee health and, ultimately, reduce health care costs.

If you feel like your employer is more interested in your health lately, you're probably right.
The Affordable Care Act encourages more employers to offer health insurance plans to their employees. But poor health habits and preventable illnesses are adding to the expense of these plans for employers. A recent survey suggests that, increasingly, employers are seeking to cut healthcare costs from the bottom up — by directly addressing the health habits of their employees.
"[Improving employee health] is the only meaningful way to reduce healthcare costs ... and the first step in the process is to motivate employees and their families to participate in health and wellness programs," says Jim Winkler, chief information officer of health and benefits at Aon Hewitt, the consultancy that did the survey.
 Aon Hewitt asked 1,800 employers in the United States about the health programs they currently offer, and those that they plan to offer in the future. They found that health risk questionnaires, which are surveys meant to raise awareness of health issues among employees, were the most common health program, offered by 68 percent of employers in 2012.

The study reports that employers are also offering more diverse health-related initiatives in 2012; sponsored fitness challenges, stress reduction techniques, and smoking cessation programs are all growing trends for employers.

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