Public Employers Step up Wellness Efforts

March 31, 2010 ( – A new survey shows that half of public employer health plans have been able to avoid double-digit premium rate increases in 2010, and that the majority of employers are stepping up health care cost control and quality care efforts using wellness initiatives.

Trends in Public Employee Plans, released by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and co-sponsored by the State and Local Government Benefits Association (SALGBA), says of the public employers surveyed, 72% offer wellness initiatives, 65% offer a disease-management program (a coordinated approach focusing on reducing costs and improving the quality of life for plan participants with a chronic condition), and 31% offer value-based care initiatives (a consumer-centered approach that uses education, preventive care and financial incentives to improve health while reducing costs).

Most public employers surveyed, 80%, expect to increase their emphasis on wellness initiatives in the next two years, according to a press release. In addition, 72% report they are likely to increase their emphasis on disease management, and 57% cite they are likely to increase their emphasis on value-based health care initiatives.

To help control their portion of health care costs, 57% of public employers report they have increased employee contributions to health plan premiums for 2010.

The majority (86%) of the public employers surveyed currently offer or are planning to offer voluntary benefits. Public employers report using voluntary (employee-paid) benefit plans in order to expand the breadth and depth of employee choice (73%); increase employee morale, loyalty, and productivity (61%); and fill gaps in employer-sponsored benefits (55%).

The most common voluntary benefits offered are term life insurance (64%), life insurance coverage for dependents (57%), dental insurance (55%), long-term disability (52%), vision insurance (52%), and long-term care insurance (49%). Seventeen percent of the public employers surveyed plan to increase their voluntary benefit offerings within the next two years.

Over half of employers (55%) believe that voluntary benefits are a win-win supplement to an organization’s benefit package, and 52% think voluntary benefits are a good way to promote individual responsibility and accountability. Fifty-eight percent predict that voluntary benefit products will grow in popularity if more employers reduce employer-sponsored coverage.

The survey results include responses from 569 individuals in the United States representing municipalities, counties/districts, states, educational institutions/education-related organizations and other public entities.

Trends in Public Employee Plans, Survey Results 2010 (Item #6863E) costs $50 and is free to IFEBP members. To order visit or contact the Foundation Bookstore at or (888) 334-3327, option 4.