Company Efforts To Address Health Care Costs Examined
USA Today on Monday examined the increasing number of U.S. companies that have begun to offer incentives to employees who "take more responsibility for both costs and health choices" and to provide employees with onsite preventive services to help reduce health care costs. About 41% of companies currently offer incentives to encourage healthier lifestyles among employees, compared with 34% in 1996, according to Hewitt Associates.
In addition, although less than 5% of companies currently provide employees with onsite preventive services such as gyms and health clinics, benefits experts expect an increase over the next five years as companies seek alternatives to higher health insurance premiums in efforts to reduce health care costs. According to supporters, companies that provide employees with "access to preventive services and monitoring of chronic conditions without having to travel to doctors' offices" can "both save money and reduce absenteeism," USA Today reports.
For example, the Alabama-based American Cast Iron Pipe Company provides employees with a number of onsite services -- such as a gym, physical therapist, medical and dental clinic and wellness club -- and offers annual bonuses to employees who exercise regularly or take other steps to maintain their health. ACIPCO spends about $600,000 annually on the programs but saves almost $1.2 million in "productivity, health care costs and the onset of chronic illness," according to Rebecca Kelly, wellness coordinator for the company (Appleby, USA Today, 8/1).