90% of employers offer wellness programs

Ninety percent of employers offer wellness programs and are finding ways to encourage employee participation in an effort to control health care costs, finds the Advertising Specialty Institute.

According to ASI, incentives are the primary factor in encouraging employee participation in wellness programs. In fact, a recent report by the Incentive Research Foundation reveals that only one in five people participate in wellness programs if there are no incentives; however, offering incentives increases participation by at least 60 percent, and incentives can impact wellness programs on a long-term basis.

Some incentive programs include popular promotional products, such as logoed body mass index calculators, jars filled with almonds, wristbands, pedometers and backpacks with many carrying printed cards with health tips.

Of the $2.5 trillion spent on health care annually, up to 75 percent is used for treating preventable conditions, finds a 2010 government report. To counter this, health care reform is helping smaller companies initiate wellness programs with the assistance of grant money, tax credits, educational surveys and online portals.

"It's clear from ASI's research that companies can attain a significant ROI through wellness programs, but while 90 percent of U.S. corporations provide employee wellness programs, only 44 percent offer promotional products as incentives for participation," says Timothy M. Andrews, president and CEO of ASI. "There's clearly room for growth in this market. It's good for business, and it's great for reducing skyrocketing health care costs."

ASI says once health care reform was passed in 2010, businesses had more of an incentive to offer employee wellness programs. By 2014, companies can offer rewards of up to 30 percent of an employee’s insurance coverage’s total cost.

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