According to a new employer survey conducted by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, corporate employers plan to spend an average of $521 per employee on wellness-based incentives within corporate health care programs. This marks an increase of 13% from the average of $460 reported for 2011, and is double the per employee average of $260 reported in 2009.

In addition to an increase in the average amount employers plan to spend on wellness incentives, the survey found that the overall use of wellness-based incentives among corporate employers continues to increase. The study found that nearly nine out of ten employers surveyed indicated that they currently offer wellness-based incentives (86%), an increase from 73% from 2011 and 57% from 2009.

“As the cost of providing health care continues to increase, employers recognize one of the key ways to manage their company’s costs is to incent their workforce to lead a healthier lifestyle,” says Adam Stavisky, senior vice president of Fidelity’s benefits consulting business, which commissioned the study with NBGH. “Employers of all sizes have embraced wellness-based incentives to help control costs, and companies are now looking at ways to design and optimize their programs to maximize their positive impact on health for both the organization and employees.”

The study also showed that 15% of employers surveyed are requiring employees to complete some sort of health activity — such as an employer-sponsored biometric screening or health risk assessment — to determine their eligibility for one or all of the company's health plans in 2013. The survey results showed that 10% of employers will be requiring employees to complete health risk assessment or risk being defaulted into a less attractive subset of the company's health plan, while 7% of employers indicated failure to complete a biometric screening would result in being defaulted into a less attractive subset of their company's health plan. In addition, 3% of employers indicated that failure to complete an health risk assessment or biometric screening would result in loss of benefits for 2013.

This year a majority of employers (54%) will expand their wellness-based incentives to include dependents, up from 45% in 2011. And almost half (49%) will now include spouses/dependents in communications about wellness programs.

“An increasing number of employers understand how wellness programs contribute to a healthy workforce,” says Helen Darling, NBGH president and CEO. “And it’s encouraging to see employers take the necessary steps to tailor their wellness programs in a way that will incent and motivate their employees to engage in health-improvement activities and find ways to reward them for their progress.”

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