Wellness Offerings now Widespread

March 10, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Among respondents to a recent survey, 51% of all multiemployer funds and 80% of public employers offer wellness initiatives.

A news release about the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) poll said the most common offerings among those with a wellness program are screening and treatment initiatives such as health screenings (76%), flu shot programs (73%), smoking cessation programs (67%), and health risk assessments (62%). A smaller number of organizations offer fitness and nutrition initiatives such as weight loss programs (34%), wellness competitions (28%), and nutrition counseling (25%), according to the IFEBP. Eighty percent report that they are likely to increase their emphasis on wellness initiatives in the next two years.

The news release said the presence of disease management programs varies by sector. More than 63% of public employers offer disease management programs compared to 39% multiemployer funds. Across both types of plan sponsors, disease management programs most frequently target diabetes (86%), heart disease (79%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (53%), and hypertension/high blood pressure (51%).

With the exception of price information on prescription drugs, most multiemployer and public employer plan sponsors are not providing treatment cost and quality information to participants, the IFEBP said. Only one in five health care plans surveyed provides information on the cost of hospital and physical services to participants. Fifty-two percent of the survey respondents believe a majority of participants would switch to better-performing providers if they understood how care quality varies and affects health outcomes.

Survey respondents identified several barriers to incorporating value-based health care. The multiemployer sector pointed to a geographically dispersed workforce as the biggest hurdle (26%), while those in the public sector stated lack of employee engagement (36%). Despite the challenges, almost two-thirds of survey respondents (64%) are somewhat to very likely to increase their emphasis on value-based health care in the next two years.

Value-Based Health Care Baseline Benchmarking Survey: Multiemployer and Public Employer Plans is available free to International Foundation members as an e-book. Nonmembers can purchase the e-book for $50. For more details, visit www.ifebp.org/books.asp?7044E.