34% of Employers Provide Insurance Discounts or Impose Penalties Upon Employees With Health Risk Factors

Posted April 22, 2013 by
Amy Kaminski of Compdata Surveys

Amy Kaminski of Compdata Surveys

There have been a number of companies making headlines over the last year as details of various wellness initiatives have been leaked to the public. CVS Caremark being the latest, now requires each of their employees to receive health screenings to include weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, or face a $50 per month penalty on their health insurance premiums. Although some may tout these measures as being drastic, they are becoming increasingly common for employers looking to combat the rising cost of healthcare. In fact, the Compdata Surveys Benefits USA 2012/2013 survey results found 34 percent of employers offering wellness programs either provide insurance discounts for employees participating in wellness programs or impose penalties on employees with risk factors, who aren’t taking action. That’s up from just 25.4 percent in 2009.

Twenty-eight percent of organizations report making medical premium contributions for employees who participate in their wellness programs, which is an increase from 16.7 percent reported three years ago. Health Savings Account and Health Reimbursement Account contributions are used by 27.6 percent of employers to reward employees for participating in wellness programs. Offering gift cards is employed by nearly 42 percent.

“The average premium increase on employer sponsored PPO plans has been between 9 and 11 percent each year since 2009,” said Amy Kaminski, vice president for Compdata Surveys. “With premiums rising at such an exponential rate, employers are desperate to find ways to slash insurance costs, and improving employee health is one of the most promising ways to accomplish this. Employees, however, need to feel making these efforts is worth their while, which is where penalties for non-participation and rewards for taking part in wellness programs come into play.”

Insurance premium penalties aren’t the only thing employees may be risking by not taking part in wellness programs. There have also been reports of organizations dismissing employees for reasons such as tobacco use or refusing to receive an annual flu shot. Tobacco cessation programs and flu shot/immunizations are offered to employees as wellness options at 62.7 percent and 90.9 percent of organizations surveyed, respectively.

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