As employers continue to use wellness programs to improve employee behavior and their health, many are taking advantage of benefits automation tools; however, they also have not reached the potential for cost savings and operational efficiency, according to the 2012 Wellness & Benefits Administration Benchmarking Study conducted by bswift along with Employee Benefit News.
“Employers are actively modifying and upgrading their wellness programs as they learn from experience, putting a greater emphasis on employee incentives and the use of biometric data,” says bswift CEO Rich Gallun. “The study shows that organizations are not waiting for absolute clarity on the future of national health reform to get a grip on health expenditures and to improve the health of their employees and dependents through wellness programs.”
In fact, 60 percent of respondents include biometric testing into their wellness programs, and to encourage employees to complete these tests, 40 percent of respondents offer incentives, such as credits toward health benefit contributions.
Overall, 76 percent of respondents provide some type of incentives with the most common being health risk assessments and tobacco cessation programs. To hit certain biometric targets, 10 percent of respondents are providing incentives, which was previously considered too invasive.
Among respondents with more 500 employees, 34 percent report using entirely paper-based benefits enrollment processes for new hires while 81 percent manually supervise incomplete enrollments to notify new hires or do not notify them at all. Thirty-six percent of these respondents have automated dependent age-out processes for canceling coverage, and 34 percent continue to manually reconcile paper health insurance invoices with benefit records or do not reconcile at all.
“The findings are clear,” Gallun says. “Employers continue to leave money on the table when it comes to benefits administration. We anticipate that the unrelenting pressures to improve organizational performance and profitability will drive more employers to implement fully automated solutions to save money in order to free up staff and also detect costly errors.”