When Offered, Wellness Programs Are Popular With Workers

By Staff Report

Jan. 17, 2008

When wellness programs are offered, a sizable majority of employees at small and midsize companies take advantage of them, a survey has found.

Although cost is becoming a determining factor in employee selection of health plans, less than half of employees at small and midsize companies are interested in enrolling in plans that would offer lower co-payments and deductibles for completing health risk assessments and wellness screenings, according to the survey, conducted online by the Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Financial Group.

However, 74 percent of employees with access to educational tools and on-site health screenings used them in 2007, the survey found.

Unfortunately, small and midsize employers have been slow to fully embrace wellness programs, according to the Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey. Just 14 percent of workers have access to educational tools and fitness center discounts, and just 10 percent have on-site health screenings available.

The survey found that wellness benefits were more likely to be offered by larger firms. While 26 percent of employers with 501 to 1,000 employees offered educational tools and discounts, only 12 percent of employers with 500 or fewer employees did so, the survey found.

The survey included responses from 1,154 employees and 514 retirees from employers with 10 to 1,000 employees. The information was gathered between October 22 and October 30, 2007.

Among other key findings:

● 45 percent of employees expressed some level of interest (either somewhat interested or very interested) in a health plan that contains a wellness component that would allow employees to have reduced deductibles and co-payments for participation, while 23 percent said they were neither interested nor uninterested in such a plan.

● Flexibility in selecting doctors, networks and facilities is declining in importance among employees and retirees, with 23 percent of responding employees and retirees rating them as essential, compared with 31 percent in 2006.

● 25 percent chose health plans based on their monthly paycheck deduction, while 18 percent made the decision based on the deductible amount.

For further information about the survey’s findings, visit

Filed by Joanne Wojcik of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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