How Employers Are Designing Wellness Programs

Making a physical wellness program successful starts with educating employers about their options and responsibilities, and the opportunities available to them, a report from United Benefit Advisors says.

By Rebecca Moore | November 21, 2016
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Most industry experts agree that employee education is the most critical component to making a wellness program successful. However, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) finds it starts with properly educating employers about their options, their responsibilities, and opportunities available to them.

For this reason, UBA has issued a report about how employers use physical wellness programs.

UBA says many employers are unaware there are wellness options available within their current benefits package. “A basic first step that many employers are starting to provide, is incentives for employees to get their physical exam, which is often covered at 100% as part of their medical benefits,” says Les McPhearson, CEO of UBA.

The firm’s research found that 18.4% of all employers offer comprehensive wellness programs, virtually unchanged from last year. As one might expect, the highest percentage (60.3%) of plans offering wellness benefits came from employers with 1,000 or more employees. The next two largest percentages—51.1% and 35.6%—came from organizations with 500 to 999 employees and 200 to 499 employees, respectively.

Small employers with fewer than 25 employees—already the least likely to have wellness programs—have seen a 34.4% decrease in wellness program offerings in the last three years (going from 9.3% to 6.1%).

Larger employers tend to turn to independent wellness program providers versus carrier programs, with 63% of employers with 500 to more than 1,000 employees preferring independent programs. Small employers (fewer than 25 employees) overwhelmingly (more than 90%) use carrier-provided programs, likely due to their low or no cost features when bundled with the health plan.

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