What is the biggest hurdle employers have to clear to accomplish their healthcare benefits goals?
Motivating participants to change unhealthy behaviors.
More than half (56%) of the 1,028 employers participating in Aon Hewitt’s 2011 Health Care Survey said that was their most significant challenge to accomplishing their healthcare program goals this year.
Incentives v. penalties
There are two schools of thought on what best motivates workers to change unhealthy habits: Some say it’s using carrots (incentives). Some say it’s using sticks (penalties).
Traditionally, more employers have favored carrots. But that sentiment is changing rapidly as employers continue to be unsuccessful at reeling in healthcare cost increases.
Findings from the survey:
- 22% of employers will have programs in place by the end of 2011 to reward participants for achieving specific health goals
- 10% will penalize participants for unhealthy behavior by the end of 2011
- By 2016, 64% said they’ll add programs that reward participants for good health, and
- 46% said they’ll add programs that penalize for unhealthy outcomes.
The survey also revealed the most popular initiatives for which employers offer participants rewards (and impose penalties for non-participation):
- Biometric screenings — 33% offer participants rewards (5% impose penalties on non-participants)
- Health risk assessments — 33% (5%)
- Wellness programs — 31% (2%), and
- Tobacco cessation programs — 27% (6%).