Survey: Employers Shifting Focus To Health Care Prevention, Incentives to Change Employee Behavior

WHILE disease management continues to play a critical role, employers are increasingly focusing on efforts to prevent employees from becoming ill such as creating incentives to change employee behavior and adoption of consumer-driven approaches.

This is the finding of a survey of more than 160 U.S. employers released on May 10 by the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH). The survey was developed to determine employer understanding, use of and readiness to adopt value-based benefit design (VBBD) strategies and to identify which strategies and experiences are currently being promoted or used by employers. Key survey components included employer demographics, positions on benefit philosophies and data activities.

"If employers offer benefits that help keep employees healthy, in the long run, the individual and the company profits," said MBGH President and CEO Larry Boress. "And, our survey results clearly show that leading-edge employers are almost twice as likely to provide incentives to employees to obtain preventive services and to choose doctors and hospitals based on quality."

Highlights of the MBGH Readiness to Change Survey findings include:

  • 95 percent of employers agree that there is a link between an employee's health and their productivity.
  • 62 percent of employers that view themselves as "leading-edge" will provide cash or other incentives to motivate employee use of preventive services; compared to 40 percent of other employers.
  • 77 percent of employers agree that using drugs proven effective for a condition will reduce other services for that condition.
  • 60 percent of employers believe employees would change to better performing providers if they understood how quality varies and affects outcomes.
  • 70 percent of employers believe they should not pay hospitals or be billed for services provided due to preventable medical errors or infections, not related to the admission of a patient.

Employers were asked to rate their organizations' benefit design philosophy as leading-edge (22 percent), careful-watcher (54 percent) or conservative (25 percent). The employers that defined themselves as leading edge plan to offer more programs to prevent illness and complications from illness within the next two years. Benefit strategies for these types of employers will rely more heavily on making employees aware that quality matters.

For more information, contact MBGH at http://www.mbgh.org.

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