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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: Sept. 23, 2008
Family Healthcare Contributions Edge Closer To Full Month’s Salary, Says Aon Consulting

While the median households in the United States earn approximately $48,000 annually, the amount these families spend on employer-sponsored healthcare per year continues to edge closer to one month’s salary, according to Aon Consulting’s 2008 Benefits and Talent Survey.

The survey revealed that the median annual contribution for family healthcare coverage is $3,120, which is a 15 percent increase from 2007, and a 22 percent increase from 2006. Meanwhile, organizations have experienced approximately 10 percent annual healthcare cost increases since 2006.

Employers are beginning to move beyond this traditional cost shifting to cost control by focusing on improving the health and productivity of their employees. The survey of more than 1,100 U.S.-based organizations found that 64 percent of employers now have a benefits strategy that promotes the importance of health and productivity to their employees.

Wellness Programs

The most common way organizations today are promoting health and productivity is through wellness programs, which are primarily designed to prevent the development of chronic conditions (i.e., diabetes and heart disease).

According to the survey, the amount of employers implementing specific wellness programs has increased three-fold from 2007 to 2008. For example, about 46 percent of employers are implementing smoking cessation programs this year, up from 14 percent of employers in 2007.

According to the survey the following are the top five wellness programs employers are implementing in 2008:

  • Promotion of exercise/physical activity – 68 percent (19 percent in 2007)
  • Disease management programs – 60 percent (18 percent in 2007)
  • Health risk appraisals – 48 percent (14 percent in 2007)
  • Biometric screening – 47 percent (12 percent in 2007)
  • Telephonic healthcare coaching – 46 percent (14 percent in 2007)

The survey also shows that employers have added incentives to motivate employees to participate in wellness programs, with 23 percent offering incentives to take health risk appraisals.

Twenty percent of employers are providing incentives to employees who complete health risk programs such as tobacco cessation or weight management programs. The type of incentives varies, but about 22 percent of employers offer non-monetary awards such as gift cards and merchandise. Only 10 percent of organizations offer employees a premium contribution reduction.

Tracking and Benchmarking

While employers understand the importance of offering wellness programs and motivating employees to improve their health, the majority of employers do not have a process in place to measure program impact or track return on investment. For example, those organizations do not have a data tracking process for:

  • Overweight employees – 92 percent of employers
  • Tobacco users – 87 percent of employers
  • Biometric data as a result of employee screenings – 79 percent of employers
  • Participation in its corporate disease management program – 69 percent of employers

According to Aon Consulting, tracking and benchmarking will enable an employer to:

  • Evaluate benefit plan performance including health management vendor performance.
  • Identify main reasons for medical costs and implement effective value-based strategies for new programs.
  • Determine return on investment and the effectiveness of wellness programs in improving health status and lowering service utilization.

Address: Aon Consulting, 200 East Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601; (312) 381-1000,

  This article was taken from:
The Executive Report on Managed Care

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