Employers Strongly Onboard for Workplace Wellness Enhancements

May 1, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - A survey by a benefits consultant has found that most employers say they plan to expand their workplace wellness efforts to not only build a healthier workforce but a more stable and productive one as well.

That was a key finding of United Benefit Advisors'(UBA) 2007 Employer Survey, according to a news release from the Indianapolis-based company.

The survey found that about 25% of employers provide various wellness and/or health risk assessment programs, and an additional 50% of employers would like to add such programs in the future. In addition, employers now overwhelmingly believe there should be a difference in benefits and/or costs based on an employee’s involvement in managing any chronic conditions, the survey found.

According to the announcement, between 30% and 50% of all employers say they hope to add:

  • Employee decision-support tools in the form of projected employee out-of-pocket costs for various plans offered,
  • Projected total costs for a given condition,
  • Formal wellness and disease management programs,
  • Cost and quality information for hospitals, physicians, and prescription drugs,
  • Early-warning tools to identify chronic conditions and potentially serious claims; or
  • Online enrollment/employee self-service.

“Employer involvement in helping to manage the health of its workforce has been rapidly gaining momentum,” said David LoCascio, UBA’s co-founder, in the news release. “The old approach of simply hoping for good claims experience has not worked, and employers are increasingly assuming more responsibility and control in an effort to impact both plan costs and employee productivity.”

Employers are also placing a greater emphasis on educating employees about plan changes and on how they can help improve their health and reduce the cost of their health plans, according to the announcement.

Survey findings in this area include:

  • 73% of all employers think employees can become better health care consumers if given the tools to do so, significantly more than the 53% who feel that plan design changes (High Deductible plans, increased co-insurance, etc.) will make better consumers.
  • Employee education initiatives also extend to retirement plans with more than 50% of all employers now providing employees with in-person consultations with financial professionals regarding their retirement savings and investment options.

The results are based on the responses of 1,746 employers comprising a representative cross-section of companies across all industry groups, various employee size categories, and regions of the country.

Copies of the survey are available for purchase via at www.benefits.com .