Most employees don’t think they should be required to participate in wellness programs to qualify for employer-provided health insurance, according to a new survey released by the National Business Group on Health. Moreover, they don’t think employers should charge employees more for health coverage if they don’t meet specific health goals.

Employees oppose the linking of their health plan to wellness program participation, with 62% opposing charging employees more for health coverage if they do not participate in wellness programs. Over 80% of employees favor offering a financial reward to employees who meet specific health goals but only 29% favor charging employees more for health coverage if they don’t meet health goals. Sixty-eight percent oppose requiring employees to participate in a wellness program in order to qualify for health insurance.

 “You can give them more, but you can’t charge them or take it away from them, according to these employees,” noted Helen Darling, president, NBGH, during a press briefing.

However, the survey of 1,545 employees at companies with 2,000 or more employees also found nearly four-in-ten (39%) rank biometric screenings as a very important health benefit program, followed by exercise programs (31%) and onsite fitness centers (31%). Interestingly, 35% of employees don’t consider any of these programs to be very important.

The survey also shows employees aren’t particularly knowledgeable about the investment their employers make in health care. Just four-in-ten can estimate their employer’s contribution to their health care premium and most of those are, at best, only somewhat confident in their estimate.

 “Employers need to help employees understand how rich the benefit is that they’re providing,” said Darling.

Over 60% of employees are very satisfied with their health plan, according to the survey. “Despite higher premium costs and higher out of pocket costs, compared to three years ago, 35% had higher satisfaction levels with their health coverage and 53% had similar satisfaction,” said Darling. “They’re paying more but they’re as satisfied or more satisfied.”

One-third of employees are not confident in their ability to shop for any insurance on their own, while 53% aren’t confident they could purchase the same or better insurance on their own.

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