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Employer Use of Financial Incentives to Reward Healthy Behavior Expected To Surge
Date:5/29/2008

Companies Tailor Programs to Target Specific Actions, According to Watson

Wyatt

WASHINGTON, May 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The number of employers offering workers financial incentives to better manage their health is expected to jump sharply next year, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm, and the National Business Group on Health, a national nonprofit association of large employers.

The survey of 453 large employers found that half currently use incentives to encourage their workers to participate in health improvement activities, such as smoking cessation or weight management programs. By 2009, however, that number is expected to leap to 74 percent.

"Some employees need a little extra inspiration to address their own health and develop healthy habits," said Ted Nussbaum, Watson Wyatt's director of group and health care consulting in North America. "Financial incentives can be a valuable investment that provides that essential push. And the payoff from improved workforce health and productivity cannot be overstated."

According to the survey, employers are using a wide range of financial incentives to promote healthier lifestyles -- from completing health risk appraisals to participating in health improvement and disease management programs. While the vast majority of employers are rewarding healthy lifestyles, 6 percent are penalizing employees for poorly managing their health conditions.

Companies use financial incentives to encourage a healthier lifestyle

Employers offering financial

Employee action/behavior incentive (%)

Full coverage of preventive services 53%

Completion of health risk appraisal 53%

Participation in health improvement or

disease management program
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SOURCE Watson Wyatt Worldwide
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