Many of us need a little motivation to practice healthy habits. Whether it’s a gym buddy to work out with, a dieting partner to shed the pounds with, or a concerned loved one to nag us into getting that checkup, a gentle push can be a powerful incentive. But what better motivator is there than cold, hard cash? That’s what more and more employers are now offering as health incentives for employees.
A recent survey found that two-thirds of large companies offer their employees medical expense accounts along with their health insurance plans. These accounts hold tax-advantaged funds contributed by the employer that can be put by an employee towards paying for out-of-pocket medical expenses or lowered premiums. And of those companies offering medical expense accounts, 26 percent base their contributions on the employee completing steps towards wellness or health management. An additional 29 percent of employers plan on doing the same by next year.
Employer contributions are typically based on the employee participating in an activity that will improve his/her health. For example, reaching a healthy weight, lowering or maintaining your blood pressure or cholesterol, participating in fitness sessions, or using a health coach to manage diabetes are some of the ways in which an employee can earn contributions to a medical expense account. And besides the improvement you’ll see in your health, the contributions are also more than worth the effort, with amounts ranging from $600-$1,000 for an individual, and $1,000-$1,800 for a family.
But it’s not just the employee who will benefit from these health incentives. Employers understand that healthier employees translate to fewer sick days, more productivity, and lower health insurance costs. Not to mention the fact that a healthy employee is a happier, better employee.
Do you participate in a health incentive program offered by your employer? Tell us how you’ve benefited from it below.
Sources: npr.org and usatoday.com