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Life Health > Health Insurance > Life Insurance Strategies

Surveys Find Strong Employer Interest In Wellness Programs

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United Benefit Advisors and PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. have released separate survey reports that show how eager plan sponsors are to control claims costs.

Researchers in the New York office of PricewaterhouseCoopers have released a report based on interviews with executives at 100 large, multinational corporations.

Although some surveys have shown that the biggest companies have had better luck at holding down health care costs than smaller companies have, 43% of the executives surveyed said their companies’ profits have suffered over the past year as a result of increased health costs, PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers say.

About 15% of the executives said health care costs are discouraging their companies from hiring permanent employees.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers found that 87% of participants believe companies should continue to provide health benefits, but the percentage who said “employees who exhibit unhealthy behaviors” should pay a larger share of their health benefit costs has increased to 62%, from 48% in 2005.

The percentage of survey participants who said giving employees information about cost and quality would reduce health care costs has dropped to 62%, from 77%, but 80% said they believe that providing financial incentives for employees participating in healthy lifestyle programs could help control their companies’ health care costs.

The UBA, Indianapolis, a group that represents independent benefits firms, commissioned a survey of 1,746 employers and found that 73% of employers believe employees can become better health care consumers if consumers have better cost and quality information tools.

Only 53% of the employers who participated in the UBA survey said increases in deductibles and other plan design changes would make employees better health care consumers, UBA researchers say.

Meanwhile, about 30% to 50% of the UBA survey participants said they want to add health care cost and quality databases, formal wellness and disease management programs, and early warning tools for identifying chronic conditions and potentially serious claims, UBA researchers say.

Roughly 25% of the participating employers already offer wellness or health risk assessment programs, the UBA researchers note.


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