New Survey Reveals Employer Health Strategies That Are Helping Workers Improve their Health and Wellness

Wed Jan 9, 2013 9:00am EST

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Consumers Do Not Have a Realistic Picture of their Health and Associated Costs,
According to Report from Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health and
The Futures Company
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill.,  Jan. 9, 2013  /PRNewswire/ -- Most workers know what it
takes to get and stay healthy, but they do not have accurate perceptions of
their health and their health care programs, according to a new survey from  Aon
Hewitt, the  National Business Group on Health  and  The Futures Company.
However some employer strategies-such as the use of account-based plans and
specific health and wellness programs-appear to be effective in motivating
employees to take action to better understand and improve their health.  

(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100719/AQ37264LOGO)

For the second straight year, Aon Hewitt, the global human resources solutions
business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), the National Business Group on Health and The
Futures Company surveyed more than 2,800 employees and their dependents covered
by employer health plans to determine their perspectives, behaviors and
attitudes towards health and wellness. According to  The Consumer Health Mindset
 survey, an overwhelming majority of consumers (87 percent) say their health is
good, and less than one quarter (23 percent) say they are overweight or obese.
Yet, more than half (53 percent) of those consumers who report being in good
health actually report height and weight that categorize them in the body mass
index (BMI) overweight or obese categories.  

"Employees want to be healthy, but many have an overly rosy perception of their
health and may not see an urgent need to take action," said  Joann Hall Swenson,
health engagement leader at Aon Hewitt. "For others, the activities and stresses
of daily life take priority over good health, and many consumers are unwilling
to make sacrifices to improve their health. Employers can help workers and their
families by first arming them with the necessary tools and resources that give
them a realistic picture of their health, and then making it easy and convenient
for them to make better decisions and participate in the right wellness
programs."

Not only are employees disconnected when it comes to their personal health, but
they are equally misinformed when it comes to understanding what the employer
pays for their health care. According to a recent Aon Hewitt analysis,[1] total
health care costs per employee were  $10,522  in 2012, and employers' share of
that cost was  $8,318. However, when asked how much of the bill their employer
pays,  The Consumer Health Mindset  survey shows consumers significantly
underestimate the portion paid by their employers, guessing approximately half
of the cost.  

"These survey results underscore the challenges employers face as they seek to
engage employees and their families in health improvement as a means to better
managing rising health care costs," said  Helen Darling, president and CEO of
the National Business Group on Health. "It is critical for employers to bridge
the knowledge gap evident in this survey."

Using Account-Based Health Plans to Motivate Behavior Change

An increasing number of employers offer account-based plans, commonly known as
consumer driven health plans, as a way for consumers to take more responsibility
for managing their health and related costs. According to  The Consumer Health
Mindset  survey findings, 78 percent of employees currently enrolled in
account-based plans are satisfied with the plans and 89 percent expect to
re-enroll in this option for 2013. For workers who have been enrolled in an
account-based plan for two or more years, almost all (97 percent) plan to
re-enroll.  

"Account-based 'consumer' plans continue to rise in popularity with employers,
in part, because they require workers to take a more active role in managing
their use of the health care system," said  Jim Winkler, health innovation
leader at Aon Hewitt. "Armed with the right tools and resources, workers who
enroll in these types of plans can clearly see what health services cost, and
they can use this information to be better informed consumers when it comes to
choosing the care they need and spending their health care dollars. In many
cases, this enlightened perspective can lead to cost savings for both the
employer and the consumer."  

The survey indicates that consumer involvement in account-based plans may
correlate to positive health behaviors. Sixty percent of employees who are
enrolled in these types of plans say they have made positive behavior changes
related to their health. Specifically, 28 percent say they receive routine
preventative care more often, 23 percent seek lower-cost health care options and
19 percent research health costs more frequently.  

Incentives Help, But May Not Always Be Necessary To Promote Health and Wellness
Programs  

When asked if they would participate in a wellness program, the survey found
that up to half of consumers said they would participate with no financial
incentive as long as it is easy and convenient to participate. Sixty-three
percent of consumers say they would complete a health risk questionnaire (HRQ)
for a monetary reward, and 62 percent would participate in a healthy eating or
weight management programs. Almost half (48 percent) would participate in a
medically-sponsored program to help them manage a health condition.  

To help consumers achieve their health-related goals, employers are willing to
offer incentives for actions that take more work. Over one-half (58 percent) of
employers surveyed offer some form of incentive for completing a lifestyle
modification program (for example, to quit smoking or lose weight).
Additionally, about one-quarter of organizations report offering incentives
(monetary or nonmonetary) for making progress toward meeting acceptable ranges
for biometric measures such as blood pressure, BMI, blood sugar and cholesterol.

According to  The Consumer Health Mindset  survey findings, HRQs are also a
valuable way to help consumers get an accurate picture of their overall health
and receive targeted feedback to help them improve their well being. Of the
workers who were offered an HRQ and received suggested action steps based on
their results, four out of five (86 percent) took some action. Further, nearly
two-thirds (65 percent) reported that they made at least one lifestyle
improvement as a result.   

"Consumers are looking for solutions that address their specific health needs
and concerns," said  Christine Baskin, senior vice president at The Futures
Company. "Tailored, targeted feedback such as that given in the HRQ process,
along with understanding individual consumer's attitudes towards health, are
essential ingredients to having employees take actions to improve their health
and their lifestyle."

About Aon Hewitt  
Aon Hewitt is the global leader in human resource solutions.  The company
partners with organizations to solve their most complex benefits, talent and
related financial challenges, and improve business performance.  Aon Hewitt
designs, implements, communicates and administers a wide range of human capital,
retirement, investment management, health care, compensation and talent
management strategies.  With more than 29,000 professionals in 90 countries, Aon
Hewitt makes the world a better place to work for clients and their employees. 
For more information on Aon Hewitt, please visit  www.aonhewitt.com.

About Aon  
Aon  plc (NYSE: AON) is the leading global provider of  risk management, 
insurance  and  reinsurance  brokerage, and  human resources  solutions and 
outsourcing  services. Through its more than 61,000 colleagues worldwide,  Aon 
unites to empower results for clients in over 120 countries via  innovative  and
effective  risk  and people solutions and through industry-leading global
resources and technical expertise. Aon has been named repeatedly as the world's
best  broker, best insurance intermediary, reinsurance intermediary, captives
manager and best  employee benefits  consulting firm by multiple industry
sources. Visit  www.aon.com  for more information on Aon and 
www.aon.com/manchesterunited  to learn about Aon's global partnership and shirt
sponsorship with  Manchester United.  

About The Futures Company  
The Futures Company is the leading global strategic insight and innovation
consultancy. Unparalleled global expertise in foresight and futures enables The
Futures Company to unlock new sources of growth through a range of subscription
services and research and consulting solutions.  The Futures Company was formed
in 2008 from the coming together of The Henley Centre, HeadlightVision and
Yankelovich. The Futures Company is a Kantar company within WPP with teams in 
North America,  Europe, and  Latin America. For more information on The Futures
Company and LIVING Well, please visit  www.thefuturescompany.com.

About the National Business Group on Health  
The National Business Group on Health (the Business Group) is the nation's only
non-profit organization devoted exclusively to representing large employers'
perspective on national health policy issues and providing practical solutions
to its members' most important health care and health benefits challenges. 
Business Group members are primarily Fortune 500 companies and large
public-sector employers-representing the nation's most innovative health care
purchasers-that provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers,
retirees and their families. The Business Group fosters the development of a
safe, high-quality health care delivery system and treatments based on
scientific evidence of effectiveness. Business Group members share strategies
for controlling health care costs, improving patient safety and quality of care,
increasing productivity and supporting healthy lifestyles. For more information,
visit  www.businessgrouphealth.org.

Contacts

For Aon Hewitt:  
Amy Ochalski;  amy.ochalski@aonhewitt.com; 847-771-4225  
MacKenzie Lucas;  mackenzie.lucas@aonhewitt.com; 847-442-2995 

For The Futures Company:  
Emily Parenti;  emily.parenti@thefuturescompany.com; 919-932-8626   

For National Business Group on Health:  
Ed Emerman;  eemerman@eaglepr.com; 609-275-5162

[1] Aon Hewitt 2012 Health Care Survey

SOURCE  Aon plc
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