Onsite Health Offerings Get High Employer Rankings

September 10, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Workers at companies offering health services in the workplace may not break down the doors to take advantage of them, but employers still tout the benefits of their offerings.

A Hewitt news release about its new poll of 248 large and mid-size companies said employers with the onsite offerings believed they best achieved their intended results aimed at improving employee health and productivity. Eighty-one percent of companies that offer onsite clinics said they were satisfied with the results they achieved from the programs and 95% were satisfied with onsite pharmacies.

Hewitt said the onsite health offerings include a variety of health-related programs that address the spectrum of health risk-from the healthy to the chronically ill.

One in five (19%) companies offered onsite medical clinics and 11% offered onsite pharmacy services. A quarter of employees (25%) used onsite medical clinics when they were made available to them, and 50% took advantage of onsite pharmacies, Hewitt said.

Hewitt said it found a much different result when it examined many of the most commonly offered health programs-including health/behavior modification programs and those providing patient education and support. Those programs had low participation rates among employees and some of the lowest employer satisfaction levels.

Despite almost two thirds of companies (73%) offering a nurse line, an average of 7% of employees actually used the program and 45% of employers were satisfied with the results. Not only that, while more than half of companies offered smoking cessation (54%) and weight management (53%) programs, less than 5% of employees who were eligible for the programs actually participated in them and less than half of employers were satisfied with the programs’ results.

“Companies have implemented a number of health and wellness programs over the past few years aimed at improving employee health, increasing worker productivity and reducing health care costs, but low participation levels and employer satisfaction rates suggest that many of these initiatives are not resulting in the outcomes employers had expected,” said Marie Kobos, leader of Hewitt’s Health and Productivity Solutions group, in the news release. “While onsite health care programs have been slow to catch on with employers – likely due to the complexities involved in offering them-they are attractive to employees because of their convenience and the level of personal interaction they provide.”

Programs that identify and prevent health risks are among the most frequent types of services offered to employees, Hewitt said.

While employee participation is high relative to other available health programs, employer satisfaction varies. According to Hewitt's survey, companies offering flu shots (88%) and biometric screenings (37%) had better levels of employee participation (30% and 34%, respectively) than other programs and exhibited higher levels of employer satisfaction (81% and 75%, respectively).

Health risk questionnaires (HRQs), offered by more than two-thirds (68%) of companies, also had better employee participation rates (30%) than most programs, though still poor on average. Unlike flu shots and biometric screenings, less than half (47%) of companies offering HRQs said they were satisfied or highly satisfied with the program's results.

According to Hewitt research, more than half (51%) of employees or their dependents have a chronic health condition that requires ongoing care. As a result, a large majority (74%) of companies in Hewitt's survey offer disease/condition management programs to employees. Despite the prevalence of these programs, only a small percentage (10%) of employees who were eligible to participate actually did so, and just 39% of employers said they were satisfied with program results.

According to Hewitt's study, year-over-year changes in overall benefit costs (89%), year-over year changes in health and prescription drug costs (86%), and employee participation rates (72%) are the factors employers most frequently used to determine the success of their health and productivity programs.