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Financial Incentives

Meghan Hatalla

Benovate’s Expert Blogger

How Can Financial Incentives Boost Workplace Wellness Participation?

When employees are healthier, businesses are healthier–from all perspectives. Corporate well-being is reflected not only in their bottom lines, but in the health and morale of employees. From productivity to creativity and more, employers who encourage employees to make wellness-based decisions see gains in multiple ways.

Methods to boost workplace wellness participation vary. Financial incentives are amongst the most popular ways that businesses seek to engage employees in initiatives. (For instance, Benovateoffers multiple avenues for financial incentives that can be customized to meet the needs of the employer.) To assess the effect of financial incentives on workplace wellness participation, the Employee Benefit Research Institute  (EBRI) conducted a case study on a large organization that increased their financial incentive program.


The Evolution of Workplace Wellness.


The study looked at the effect on participation as well as the impact on utilization of health care service and spending. Part of the impetus for the study was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This allows financial incentives of up to 30% of the total coverage cost of participation in a wellness program.

The organization which hosted the study contained both union and non-union employees. Amongst union member, participation in health risk assessments (HRAs) increased by 50% (and 22% among non-union employees). Additionally, biometric screening participation increased by 55% with the additional financial incentives.  The effects, as laid out by the report:

3 Ways Financial Incentives Workplace Wellness Participation:

1. Biometric screenings led to an average increase of 0.31 annual prescription drug fills, with related spending higher by $56 per member per year. Otherwise, no significant effects of participation in HRAs or biometric screenings on utilization of health care services and spending were found.

2. The largest increase in medication utilization as a result of biometric screening was for statins, which are widely used to treat high cholesterol. This therapeutic class accounted for one-sixth of the overall increase in prescription drug utilization. Second were antidepressants, followed by ACE inhibitors (for hypertension), and thyroid hormones (for hypothyroidism).

3. Biometric screening also led to significantly higher utilization of biologic response modifiers and immunosuppressants. These specialty medications are used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and are relatively expensive compared with non-specialty medications. The added spending associated with the combined increase in fills of 0.02 was $27 per member per year—about one-half of the overall increase.

All in all, the study found that financial incentives were successful in driving employee participation on organizational wellness initiatives. Particularly interesting is that the additional incentives brought in less-healthy individuals (potentially the most important employees to reach). This is promising research indicating that financial incentives can help employees become healthier in general.

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Benovate believes in making better health accessible to everyone customized to each unique member – our mission is to engage, educate and empower members to make appropriate health and lifestyle changes. Inspiring a healthy, total well-being.

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