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Offering incentives can improve employee health

Posted by Paula Turnquist

Do incentives for health actually work? If your employer offers you something that might help you stay healthier — exercise programs, for example, or even a break on health insurance premiums — would it work?

A recent study suggests that such programs would have an impact on you and likely many of your coworkers. In the field of healthcare, as in so many other places, properly crafted incentives simply work. 

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Here are more facts:

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined this issue by taking a closer look at a specific program that sought to encourage people to quit smoking. The smokers were all enrolled in groups of six and checked in at several intervals — after the first 14 days, 30 days, six months and at the end of the year. The incentive was simple: at each of the first three intervals, the participants received $100 for every group member who successfully abstained from smoking. This, plus a $200 bonus available at the six month mark, meant that each participant could earn as much as $2,000 at the conclusion of the program.

The result showed that this was successful. After six months, 16 percent of the participants had quit smoking. Only 6 percent were able to quit through other methods in the control group.

These are the kinds of results that many employers would like to see from their workplace wellness programs. While many such programs do not offer explicit monetary rewards, they do present a variety of incentives that can be quite effective in improving overall employee health.

 

Posted by Paula Turnquist

Paula Turnquist joined Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in 2013 as sales manager of Employer Products. She is responsible for the sales of products and services ranging from employer group health plans to Executive Health and Occupational Medicine programs. Paula is originally from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is a Nursing and Health Care Administration graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. She has worked in healthcare since 1976 serving major hospital systems, physician practices, venture capital start-ups and large insurance carriers.

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Topics: wellness activities, Wellness Program, incentives

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