By Robert Iafolla
Employers increasingly are rewarding some workers and penalizing others as part of their employee wellness programs, with 83 percent of companies using some type of incentive, the human resource consulting firm Aon Hewitt said March 25.
Of the nearly 800 employers responding to an Aon Hewitt survey, 79 percent said they offered rewards for participation in wellness programs, which range from taking a health screening test to making progress toward certain blood-pressure, blood-sugar, or cholesterol levels.
The survey found that 5 percent of employers currently use penalties, and 16 percent use both penalties and rewards.
Moreover, the use of penalties appears set to rise, as 58 percent of the companies said they are planning to impose penalties on workers who do not take actions to improve their health.
Companies have turned to wellness programs as a way to cut their health care costs. The federal government also has promoted the programs in the Affordable Care Act, which increases the maximum reward in health-contingent programs to 30 percent from 20 percent of the total cost of coverage.
Although wellness programs raise privacy and discrimination issues, a well-designed program can address those concerns, according to Jeffrey Liva, president of Preventive Plus, a New Jersey-based company that assists employers in setting up wellness programs.
“Wellness scores are like credit scores,” Liva said. “The employer wouldn't know if the employee was being treated for an ingrown toenail or full-blown AIDS.”
For example, CVS Caremark is launching a program that requires workers to submit to a health screening; failure to do so triggers a $600 penalty.
The program complies with medical privacy standards under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis told BNA. A third-party administrator collects the medical information and does not share it with CVS, he said.
“To encourage a higher level of participation in our wellness review,” DeAngelis said, “we reviewed best practices and determined that an additional cost for those who do not complete the review was the most effective way to incent our colleagues to improve their health care and manage health costs.”
By Robert Iafolla
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).