Wellness Plans Need More Personalization

The keys to maximizing a wellness plan is to offer personalization, provide rewards, and understand what employees want, according to a survey by Welltokget and the National Business Group on Health. The study, which is based on the responses of over 1,000 full-time employees at large companies, reveals the following:

  • 81% say their company wellness plan has improved their physical well-being.
  • 60% say that including family in wellness programs is likely to increase participation.
  • 37% of those who did not participate in the company’s wellness program did not find it relevant to them, and 20% didn’t know it was available.
  • 78% of those earning $200,000 more would engage in healthier behaviors if they got rewards as would 98% of all employees under 35 and 85% of those over 55.
  • 86% said the top motivators for improving their health came from colleagues, followed by their direct manager (57%).
  • 64% of Millennials said that their direct manager influenced them to improve their health compared to 51% of those 55 and older.
  • 24% of Millennials said HR influenced them to improve their health compared to 40% of those 55 and older.
  • 63% of households making less than $50,000 want employers to play a role in their financial well-being compared to 44% of those making $200,000 or more.
  • 60% of participants from 18 to 34 say that employers should be involved in financial health compared to less than half of those 45.
  • 58% of women say employers should play a role in employees’ financial health versus 48% of men.
  • 77% of employees say that their employers should play a role in helping them get cost effective care.
  • 74% say the employer should provide emotional/personal support resources.
  • 53% say employers should play a role in helping them stop unhealthy behaviors.
  • 53% say employers should help them manage financial issues.
  • 24% participate in emotional health benefits.
  • 37% participate in financial security programs.
  • 48% of employees participate in programs to help them improve their physical health.

Brian Marcotte, CEO and president of the National Business Group on Health said, “It is clear that employees can benefit from employer-sponsored programs aimed at improving physical, financial and emotional health, along with decision support resources to maximize their health care experience. The one size fits all approach to communications has proven ineffective in engaging employees and engagement is now the number one challenge facing employers. Personalization is the key. Emerging engagement platforms…shows great promise…by leveraging data, predictive analytics, and technology to reach people with personalized, timely, relevant, and actionable information.” For more information, visit welltok.com.

Employer-Sponsored Family Health Premiums Rise a Modest 4%


Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $16,351 in 2013, up 4% from in 2012, with workers paying an average of $4,565 toward the cost of their coverage, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust. The rise in premiums is moderate by historical standards. Since 2003, premiums have increased 80%, nearly three times as fast as wages and inflation.

“We are in a prolonged period of moderation in premiums, which should create some breathing room for the private sector to try to reduce costs without cutting back benefits for workers,” said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D.

Firms with many lower-wage workers (at least 35% earning $23,000 or less annually) required workers to pay $1,363 more toward family premiums than did companies with fewer lower-wage workers ($5,818 versus $4,455 annually). The lower-wage firms offered less costly coverage too, creating a big disparity in the share of the premium that their workers pay (39% versus 29%).

In 2013, 78% of all covered workers had an annual deductible, up from 72% in 2012. Typically, workers pay this deductible before most services are covered by their health plan. The average deductible for worker-only coverage was $1,135 in 2013, similar to the $1,097 average deductible in 2012.

In 2013, 38% of all workers had a deductible of at least $1,000 or more compared to 58% of workers at small firms. In fact, 31% of workers at small firms had a deductible of at least $2,000 in 2013, up from 12% in 2008.

In 2013, 35% of employers said that wellness plans are very effective in controlling costs compared to 22% who cited disease management, 20% who cited consumer-driven health plans, and 17% who cited higher cost sharing.

Nearly all large employers (at least 200 workers) offered at least one wellness program. Thirty-six percent of large employers that offered wellness programs provided financial incentives for participation, such as lower premiums or deductibles, a larger contribution to a tax-preferred savings account, gift cards, cash, or other direct financial incentives. Fifty-five percent of large firms that offered health benefits also offered biometric screenings, and 11% rewarded or penalized workers financially based on whether they achieve biometric outcomes.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes provisions that allow broader use of financial incentives to encourage workers to improve their health status and outcomes. “This will be an important issue to watch next year, as employers will have more flexibility and could ask workers to pay more because of their lifestyles and health conditions,” said KFF vice president Gary Claxton.

Thirty-six percent of covered workers were in grandfathered plans, down from 48% in 2012. The slow growth in premiums also means that fewer employer plans will be subject to the ACA’s high-cost plan tax that takes effect in 2018. The Congressional Budget Office recently reduced its estimate of the number of plans that would trigger the tax, and a continued low growth rate could further reduce the effect of this provision.

In 2o13, 29% of employers with at least 5,000 workers were considering offering benefits through a private exchange. These jumbo firms employ almost 40% of all covered workers, so their interest could indicate a significant shift in the way many people get their health insurance.

Fifty-seven percent of firms offered health benefits in 2013, which is statistically unchanged from the 2012 and 2011. Nearly all firms with at least 200 workers offered health benefits to at least some of their workers.

Forty-three percent of the smallest firms (three to nine workers) offered health benefits in 2013 compared to 50% in 2012. Also, 23% of firms with a lot of low-wage workers offered health insurance compared to 60% of firms with few low-wage workers. For more information, visit http://kff.org/EHBS.

Covered California Offers New Dental Plans

Covered California is offering new family dental plans to consumers who enroll in health insurance coverage in 2015. All individual health insurance plans sold through the Covered California exchange will include pediatric dental benefits for members younger than 19.

All children enrolled in Covered California will have dental coverage embedded in their comprehensive health plan, Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. They will be getting better coverage and more for their money. The family dental plan will offer adults the option of receiving dental coverage outside the general health plans at an additional cost. Some consumers also may be drawn to family dental plans if a provider they prefer for their child is not offered in their embedded coverage.

The optional stand-alone family dental plans, which offer coverage for adults will be added in early 2015. Covered California will offer dental health maintenance organization (DHMO) and dental preferred provider organization (DPPO) plans, giving consumers a choice in the type of plan that will work best for them.

There is no financial help available for the optional adult dental benefits. There is no requirement to enroll children in a family dental plan. The family dental plan, which is optional, is primarily for adults who did not have coverage in 2014. Families should keep in mind that adding their children to a family dental plan will be more expensive than the same dental services they already get in their standard health insurance plan. The most likely reason to enroll a child in the family dental plan is to use a dental provider who is not offered through their embedded coverage. For more information, visitwww.CoveredCA.com/coverage-basics/plans/.

Last Updated 05/25/2022

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