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Life Health > Health Insurance

The wellness program is (often) watching

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Workers are starting to connect in an intensely personal way with employer-sponsored wellness programs.

About 4 percent of all group health plan sponsors say their wellness programs use data from the participants’ mobile telephones and wearable health-tracking devices, according to analysts at the Menlo Park, California-based Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Chicago-based Health Research & Education Trust.

The numbers are much higher at bigger employers.

About 16 percent of group health plan sponsors with 200 or more workers say they use information from mobile phones and wearables in wellness programs.

At employers with 5,000 or more workers, 35 percent of the wellness programs pull in data from mobiles and wearables.

The Kaiser/Health Research & Education Trust analysts have based those figures on results from a telephone survey of human resources and benefits managers at 1,933 U.S. employers.

Related: Insurance consumers: We’ll give up our data for personalized service

The Kaiser/Health Research & Education Trust survey team did not ask the question about data from mobiles and wearables when they conducted the 2015 survey.

In other survey results:

    • 16 percent of the companies surveyed say they offer incentives with a value over $1,000.

    • 87 percent of the companies that offer health and wellness program incentives say the incentives are at least somewhat effective at encouraging participation.

    • 76 percent of the large employers promote program participation by offering cash, gift cards, merchandise or contributions to health accounts.


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