A recent survey by the Healthcare Trends Institute sheds lighton employer attitudes towards the health insurance landscape,particularly wellness initiatives.

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The survey, which polled over 100 HR managers across thecountry, showed that wellness initiatives are growing in popularitybut are far from universally embraced as a key part ofemployer-sponsored health plans.

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Specifically, just over a third of employers said they havealready put implemented some type of incentive-based program aimedat encouraging employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. One-fifthof employers said they were considering such a program in thefuture, while 16 percent said they were still learning about theconcept. Fut a full quarter of employers reported no interest inimplementing such a program.

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Wellness-based incentives have come under fire from some who sayit is a backdoor method for employers to shift health costs ontoemployees under the guise of encouraging healthybehavior.

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Al Lewis, CEO of Quizzify, a company that aims to teachemployees how to avoid unnecessary health costs, has been aparticularly vociferous critic,arguing that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that suchinitiatives succeed in improving worker health or reducing employerhealth costs. He has even suggested that such programs do more harmto a company by reducing worker morale through“weight-shaming.”

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Many employers that have not put in place incentive-basedwellness initiatives nevertheless offer programs aimed at educatingemployees about ways to improve their health. According to thesurvey, 45 percent of employers offer at least one wellnessprogram.

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Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) said that the maineffect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has beenan increased shift in costs onto employees.

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