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Watson Wyatt Identifies Major Benefit Trends During Open Enrollment Season
Date:9/24/2007

Financial Incentives/Penalties for Healthy Behaviors, Full Coverage for

Preventive Care Highlight Trends

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Millions of U.S. workers are getting ready to make important decisions about their health care benefits as this year's open enrollment season rapidly approaches. With companies seeking to improve employee health and control rising health care costs, employees should take the time to review and evaluate the benefit choices employers are offering for next year, according to experts at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm.

"Open enrollment is a much more active process than it was just a few years ago," said Ted Nussbaum, North America director of group and health care consulting at Watson Wyatt. "With some employers making significant changes to their benefit offerings, employees will need to pay closer attention to their options than ever before. And that will require time to ensure they receive the benefits they want for next year."

Here are some of the major trends that benefits experts at Watson Wyatt, which consults with large employers on their open enrollment programs, have identified for this year's season:

-- Incentives/penalties for healthy/unhealthy behaviors. Companies recognize that having a healthy workforce can help control rising health care costs and increase worker productivity. More companies are offering financial incentives to employees who have healthy lifestyle habits or who participate in wellness and fitness programs. A forthcoming survey by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) shows that 46 percent of employers currently offer economic incentives and another 26 percent plan to do so in 2008. A few companies take the opposite approach and penalize workers for unhealthy choices, such as smoking, by charging them higher premiums. Many companies give workers a financial incentive to complete a health
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SOURCE Watson Wyatt Worldwide
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