Ohio employers amp up incentive programs to battle rising healthcare costs

by: Nichole Gunn November 23, 2011

Employers in Ohio are bracing for an increase in healthcare costs over the next year by working to offset those increases with employee incentive programs driven by corporate health and wellness initiatives.

According to the Dayton Daily News, employers in the area are offering up an incentives for employees who adopt better and healthier lifestyle choices in the hopes that the positive impact will display itself in the company's bottom line.

“It is the wave of the future,” Tim Schmalz, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's regional vice president for southern Ohio, told the newspaper. “When you’re putting $50 or $100 on the line to get people to fill out a form, it gets their attention.”

One example of incentives offered to employees in order to adopt healthy lifestyles took place with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield this past year. The company provided its 4,800 workers in Ohio with as much as $400 off individual medical plan costs and up to $800 off the cost of family plans for those who agreed to complete an online health risk assessment and promise not to use tobacco while agreeing to enroll in one or more offered wellness programs, the Daily News said.

Hospice of Dayton recently started providing reimbursement of up to $150 annually for employees to partake in home fitness equipment, fitness center memberships, weight management programs, athletic shoes and more. In addition, Hospice of Dayton, which receives its health insurance from Anthem, will receive partial reimbursement from the coverage provider in 2012 for its wellness initiative.

“It’s done tremendous things for our morale here,” Amy Wagner, Hospice of Dayton's vice president of organizational excellence, told the newspaper. “We don’t look at it all in terms of insurance costs. We look at it as keeping our staff healthy and happy."

Elsewhere in Ohio, employees at Akron General and Summa health systems are being motivated to quit smoking, lower their blood pressure and lose weight in an attempt to lower employer-sponsored healthcare costs. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Akron General is offering its 3,800 workers as much as $240 annually off their contribution to the company's health insurance premium as long as they meet pre-determined health targets.


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