Wellness programs are increasingly popular in the workforce, but employers are taking an extra step to battle rising costs by rewarding employees who follow wellness guidelines and penalizing the ones who don't. According to a study by MetLife, 17 percent of employers offer health insurance credits for employees following wellness guidelines such as exercise, nutrition, check-ups and disease screenings. Thirty-one percent of employers with 500 or more employees are offering these wellness credits, an increase of 25 percent from last year. One in ten employers, and one in five employers with 500 or more employees, say they impose financial penalties on employees for not following wellness guides.

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Other findings from the MetLife study:

  • Thirty-five percent of employers funded employee assistance programs in 2006, up from 25 percent the prior year. For companies with 500 or more employees this number has grown from 46 percent in 2005 to 58 percent in 2006.
  • Seventeen percent of employers, 34 percent of employers with 500 or more employees, offer targeted prevention programs.
  • Fourteen percent of employers, 28 percent of employers with 500 or more employees, provide onsite clinics.
  • Fifteen percent of employers, 29 percent of employers with 500 or more employees, offer health care advocacy.

Source: MetLife's 5th Annual Employee Benefits Trend Study

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