Employer Survey Points to Need For Health Management, Including Incentives for Employees

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How do you structure and employee health benefit incentive program? What incentives do you use to change health behavior?

Focusing on prevention, early intervention, disease management and quality outcomes not only can help employers control health care costs, it can make employees healthier and more productive

Companies that combine "consumer-directed health plans" with other health-related tactics are more effective than others at controlling health care costs, according to a recent independent survey. Officials from IncentOne, a consultive technology company specializing in incentives-based health and productivity administration solutions, praised the findings.

Companies that are best at controlling costs are focused on adopting approaches that involve quality, health improvement and productivity (including the use of incentives), data and evidence, and the appropriate use of health care services, the report, issued last week by Watson Wyatt Worldwide and the National Business Group on Health, found.

IncentOne offers technology platforms to allow large employers to provide incentives, including but not limited to cash awards, to employees who take proactive steps to improve their health (for example, a gift card for completing a smoking cessation program).

"Managing and improving the health of a work force is a critical component of controlling health costs," said Michael Dermer, president and chief executive officer of IncentOne. "A robust incentive strategy leveraging plan-design or other incentive models is critical to the success of any health and disease management program."

The NBGH/Watson Wyatt report focused on the use of consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs), which generally include a high-deductible plan coupled with a personal savings account such as a health savings or health reimbursement account. These plans are attractive to employers who are seeking to limit their health care expenditures and encourage their employees to pay more attention to health care costs and adopt healthy behaviors.

In a survey of 573 large employers, 38 percent are offering CDHPs, an increase of five percentage points over a year ago. However, employee enrollment in CDHPs remains low at 8 percent, an increase of only one percentage point from 2006. This comes despite the fact that CDHPs usually involve lower health insurance premiums for employees.

Broader participation in CDHPs is linked to lower health care cost increases. Employers with 10 percent or more of their covered population in a CDHP are holding health care cost increases to a lower level — 6.5 percent average — than other employers. Some employers are also driving enrollment by offering CDHPs as their only option. Currently, 5 percent of employers are offering CDHPs on a total replacement basis, and another 4 percent will do so in 2008.

The survey found that best performers are 17 percent more likely to offer compelling financial incentives to encourage employee education and participation and 11 percent more likely to effectively deliver health care information.

"Focusing on prevention, early intervention, disease management and quality outcomes not only can help employers control health care costs, it can make employees healthier and more productive," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health.

"Employers are finding that encouraging their employees to maintain healthier lifestyles has great benefit."

About IncentOne

Since 1997, IncentOne has provided integrated incentive solutions to clients ranging from small businesses to the FORTUNE® 500, including half of the FORTUNE® 50. IncentOne’s solutions combine its proven incentive platform with the industry’s most comprehensive reward portfolio and best practices to provide companies with a tool to drive business objectives. IncentOne’s clients include Washington Mutual, WebMD, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Deloitte, MGM, ADP, NBC and the United States Postal Service. For more information, please visit http://www.IncentOne.com.

Note to Editors: If you would like to speak with Michael Dermer, CEO of IncentOne, please call Katherine H. Capps 703-319-0957

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: http://www.HRmarketer.com) on behalf of the company listed above.

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Karla Hurter
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