Managing Health a Lower Priority for Workers

February 18, 2011 ( – In the second of its Employees Perspectives on Health Care reports, Towers Watson says health is slipping farther down employees’ priority lists.

Only 59% of respondents say managing their health is a top priority, compared with 69% in 2008. In addition, only 44% of employees in fair or worse health say managing their health is a top priority.   

Further, only 45% of employees in fair or worse health say they’ve taken actions in the last two years to significantly improve their health, compared with 59% of the employee group as a whole, according to the report.  

Towers Watson’s findings also show a decline in actions taken around prevention and wellness. Apart from those in poor health, the percentages of those who have scheduled preventive health care exams or screenings in the past two years have decreased across all employee groups. This can be disheartening news for employers implementing health screenings and wellness programs in an attempt to control costs.  

Participation in employer-sponsored wellness programs is mixed. Employees are using health risk assessments and biometric screenings more than in past years, but participation in lifestyle management programs has declined. Approximately one-third (34%) of employees say the programs offered by their employer encourage them to live a healthier lifestyle.   

More than one in four (27%) would not participate in an employer-provided wellness program without a financial incentive. 

The full report is here 

In its first Employee Perspectives on Health Care report, Towers Watson said it found the number of employees who would pay more for predictable health care costs has doubled over the past year (see Employees Willing to Pay for Predictable Health Care Costs).