Businesses increasing incentives in wellness programs

In order for individuals to get more and pay less of their employer-sponsored healthcare plans, businesses are adding incentives to wellness programs, the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to a survey of 466 mid-size and large employers, businesses are willing to give more back to their workforce. The study revealed that 65 percent of respondents will increase incentives for joining a wellness program. However, there is a catch. By 2012, 62 percent said they will want to see tangible action taken by employees.

"Employers see unhealthy lifestyle as the biggest barrier to providing affordable healthcare coverage," says LuAnn Heinen, vice president of the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of large U.S. employers.

Currently, however, low turnout is stalling many programs. Average employee participation stands at approximately 10 to 15 percent in observed programs, Heinen told the Times.

The continued rise in healthcare costs is a major motivating factor in the introduction of such programs. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, family health plan premiums rose 3 percent in 2010 to a nationwide average of $13,770 for employers. The numbers were worse for employees who were dealt a 14 percent increase - or a $4,000 average per family.

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