While U.S. companies continue to use financial incentives as a way to increase employee participation in health and wellness programs, a new survey by consultancy Hewitt Associates shows that employers’ appetite for penalizing workers for unhealthy behaviors is also on the rise. This shift in strategy suggests that companies increasingly are challenging employees and their dependents to be accountable for the decisions they make regarding their health.
That trend might be accelerated by the 2010 health care reform law, which will give employers more leeway in incentivizing healthy behavior. See SHRM's Health Care Reform Resource Page.
Hewitt’s annual health care trends survey of nearly 600 large U.S. employers—representing more than 10 million employees—shows that nearly one-half (47 percent) use or plan to use financial penalties over the next three to five years for workers who do not participate in certain health improvement programs.