Nearly two-thirds of insurance employers this year faced higher medical insurance premiums, according to the 2012 Compensation Data Insurance survey results.
Although the average increase hit 8 percent, it is down from 9.7 percent in 2011 and 9.6 percent in 2010. Regardless of the drop, respondents still contribute 10.2 percent of their total payroll costs toward medical insurance for employees, and they are relying on wellness programs to help curb those costs.
While wellness programs have generally included weight management, tobacco cessation programs or offering flu shots and immunizations, more options are now available, such as biometric, body mass index, cholesterol and blood glucose screenings in order to identify risk factors. Biometric screenings were offered at only 19.8 percent of respondents in 2009, but they are now offered by 48.9 of respondents. Additionally, more respondents are offering physical fitness facility access, onsite health clinics, and rewards and incentives, especially over the last few years.
"The upshot of a well-executed wellness program does not lie just with reduced medical costs," says Amy Kaminski, director of marketing for Compdata Surveys. "Many employers are experiencing a positive impact on their bottom line as a result of greater employee productivity and reduced absenteeism."
Respondents are also cutting and maintaining costs by using networks of health care professionals at 82.8 percent, increasing the employee portion of the premium at 63.2 percent and offering disease management at 69.3 percent. Another 11 percent of respondents are using surcharges for enrolling an employee's spouse on the medical plan if that person is eligible for benefits under the employer plan.