The cost of providing health care benefits to employees is becoming a huge burden for employers because of skyrocketing premiums. However, employers have come up with a solution to help cut not only their out-of-pocket expenses, but also what their employees spend as well. How? By encouraging their employees to visit their doctors more often.
Confused? While most of us think that going to the doctor more often will only lead to higher out-of-pocket costs, new health plans cover 100-percent of many types of preventive health care now. And, some employers are providing incentives to employees who stay healthy. Employers may encourage workers to join wellness programs, and use preventive care services like annual physical exams to detect diseases at an early stage.
As health care costs continue to spike, such encouragement is increasing. Incentives are usually in the form of gift cards, a reduction in the shared cost of premiums to employees, or contributing more to employees’ Health Savings Accounts.
According to numbers from the National Business Group on Health, the average dollar amount of incentives that employers are offering is about $450 for 2013. The Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust survey showed that approximately 41 percent of employers offer financial incentives this year. That includes encouraging employees to join wellness programs and adopt healthy lifestyle choices. In 2011, only 27 percent of employers were offering similar financial rewards. Researchers said that the increase in employer incentives was a response to rising health care costs.
This reward system motivates workers to adopt healthy habits making it a win-win situation. When you are healthy, you not only have lower out-of-pocket costs, but you also greatly reduce your long-term health care expenses by avoiding chronic illness that could require treatment for years. All of that serves to lower the company’s expenses as well.