Public Employers Focusing More on Disease Management

January 14, 2009 ( -A recent health care survey found the majority of public sector employers are working to control costs by implementing disease management and wellness programs, instead of introducing consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs).

A news release from the the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) said more than half of public employers who responded to the survey indicate they have implemented a disease management (69%) or a wellness program (65%). A much smaller percentage, 17%, have a consumer-driven health plan in place.

In comparison to the other employment sectors, public employers were significantly less likely to offer CDHPs. Corporate respondents stated they offer CDHPs at more than double the rate of the public sector (39%), while professional service firms are more than three times as likely to have a consumer-driven plan in place (59%).

“Although CDHPs have become common in the corporate environment, many public sector plans do not see CDHPs as a good fit for their organization-perhaps because the greater out-of-pocket costs associated with CDHPs could result in employees delaying needed care,” said Sally Natchek, Senior Director of Research at the IFEBP, in the news release. “Instead, public employers are working to control costs by implementing wellness and disease management programs and building a foundation for individual responsibility.”

According to the announcement, the survey found that 64% of public employers are taking an incremental approach to overall cost management, with only a small minority, 5%, indicating they are making significant, dramatic changes. Public employers identified promoting individual responsibility for health as the major factor shaping their health care strategies.

Public employer respondents were the most likely to state that helping workers enjoy better overall physical health was a reason they offered a wellness program. The most common wellness initiatives they offer include health screenings, health risk assessments/appraisals, flu shots, smoking cessation programs, health fairs, and wellness education.

“Health Care Cost Control: Industry Approaches and Attitudes”(Item #6535E) is 57 pages and costs $100 (I.F. Members $67). The publication is available as an e-book only. To order visit or contact the Foundation Bookstore at or (888) 334-3327, option 4.