In today’s marketplace, an increasing number of companies and corporations are offering their employees health incentives (sometimes called wellness incentives) as part of their overall healthcare coverage. The idea is to get employees invested in making healthier choices in their own lives, so that they are less likely to suffer from health problems and cost companies more in health insurance. The incentives companies offer cost far less than covering sick employees, and therefore the company saves.
What Are Health Incentives?
The term “health incentives” encompasses a whole range of different programs with different scopes and goals. Some incentives programs only encourage employees to get preliminary screenings and to examine their own family histories for risk factors. More action-oriented programs may ask employees to join a weight management program or to sign up for gym membership (both of which the company reimburses them for); others may provide a wide range of activities employees can sign up for or optimal benchmarks in weight, BMI, blood pressure, etc. that employees should reach. Each of these programs are built on systems of rewards and punishments—often in the forms of lower insurance payments or higher ones, respectively.
Plans may include:
- Educational or Awareness Programs: Encouraging employees to get tested for risk factors
- Action Based Incentives: Employees must join a recognized weight loss program
- Comprehensive Plans: Allows employees freedom of choice in health care activities, with bigger rewards for taking on bigger activities
- Progress-Based Incentives: Employees are rewarded for actually reaching weight loss or blood pressure benchmarks
- Outcome-Based Incentives: Employees only pay lower insurance premiums if they reach and maintain ideal health standards
- Personalized Incentives: Every employee has their own incentive plan with incentives based on personalized benchmarks
What Are the Benefits of Health Incentives?
Based on the health incentives plan you implement, you may be able to see significant improvements in the health choices your employees make. While healthy living can’t prevent all diseases, health incentive programs have caught potentially fatal heart attacks before they occurred and have helped employees obtain much less expensive preventative treatment in time.
Benefits of health incentive programs might also include:
- Basic programs that introduce employees to healthy living
- Action plans that encourage employees to make healthy choices
- Personalized plans can help make it easier for employees to make the healthy choices that would benefit them most
What Are the Drawbacks to Health Incentives?
Every incentives system has its own drawbacks which can reduce their effectiveness. These drawbacks can stem from the type of program you institute—more open programs might lead to an overwhelming number of choices, while less involved programs might result in less participation.
Some potential drawbacks include:
- Employees in action plans may only make choices to obtain the incentives, which may not be enough to change their lifestyles
- Even more open and comprehensive plans may not be accommodating enough for employee schedules or obligations
- Not all employees may meet progress or outcome based incentives even with significant efforts due to genetic factors
Should You Offer Health Incentives?
In order to determine if it would benefit your company to offer health incentives, it’s important to think about who your employees are and what they will respond to best. Are they motivated people who will work towards living a healthier lifestyle once they know the risks? Or do they need more prompting and structure?
Ultimately the effectiveness of your health incentives program, should you choose to enact one, will depend on how you structure it for your particular set of employees. These decisions can be difficult to answer for a company of any size. Insight Performance can help. We can help you get a more well-rounded sense of your employees’ motivations and help you establish the right health incentives program to fit them. Call us today to find out what we can do for your company.