Rising health-care costs are prompting more employers to become involved in helping employees manage and take responsibility for their own health. A survey of 1,050 major U.S. employers by Hewitt Associates LLC, a management consulting firm in Lincolnshire, Illinois, found 88 percent of major employers have introduced some form of health management program to promote health, prevent unnecessary risk or intervene in the early stages of disease. The study found health management programs typically include at least one of the following:
- Education and training. New approaches to education and training might include individual counseling on treatment compliance (for diabetes or asthma, for example) or lifestyle habits that contribute to chronic or acute conditions.
- Health risk assessments. These include medical tests such as cholesterol or blood pressure checks.
- Financial incentives and disincentives. Incentives range from reimbursing employees for participating in smoking cessation or weight-control programs to monetary rewards for taking part in health-risk appraisal or fitness programs. Disincentives, which help pay for added costs associated with poor health habits, include charging employees who use tobacco higher medical or life insurance premiums.