Screen-Shot-2014-09-11-at-9.12.25-PM-e1410484382179The Kaiser Family Foundation has released an extensive survey of employer health benefits which includes some very valuable data on the prevalence of wellness programs in the workplace.

Key findings: “Almost one-third of employers (33%) offering health benefits provide employees with an opportunity to complete a health risk assessment. A health risk assessment includes questions about medical history, health status, and lifestyle, and is designed to identify the health risks of the person being assessed. Large firms (200 or more workers) are more likely than smaller firms to ask employees to complete a health risk assessment (51% vs. 32%). Among these firms, 51% of large firms (200 or more workers) report that they provide a financial incentive to employees that complete the assessment. Thirty-six percent of firms with a financial incentive for completing a health risk assessment reported that the maximum value of the incentive is $500 or more.

“Fifty-one percent of large firms (200 or more workers) and 26% of smaller firms offering health benefits report offering biometric screening to employees. A biometric screening is a health examination that measures an employee’s risk factors, such as body weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, and nutrition. Of these firms, one percent of large firms require employees to complete a biometric screening to enroll in the health plan; and 8% of large firms report that employees may be financially rewarded or penalized based on meeting biometric outcomes.

“Virtually all large employers (200 or more workers) and most smaller employers offer at least one wellness program. Seventy-four percent of employers offering health benefits offer at least one of the following wellness programs in 2014:

  1. weight loss programs
  2. gym membership discounts or on-site exercise facilities
  3. biometric screening
  4. smoking cessation programs
  5. personal health coaching
  6. classes in nutrition or healthy living
  7. web-based resources for healthy living
  8. flu shots or vaccinations
  9. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
  10. wellness newsletter

“Large firms (200 or more workers) are more likely to offer one of these programs than smaller firms (98% vs. 73%). Of firms offering health benefits and a wellness program, 36% of large firms (200 or more workers) and 18% of smaller firms offer employees a financial incentive to participate in a wellness program, such as smaller premium contributions, smaller deductibles, higher HSA/HRA contributions or gift cards, travel, merchandise or cash. Among firms with an incentive to participate in wellness programs, only 12% of small firms and 33% of large firms believe that incentives are “very effective” at encouraging employees to participate. In lieu of or in addition to incentives for participating in wellness programs, 12% of large firms have an incentive for completing wellness programs.”