Published on May 23, 2014

PERSONNEL MATTERS: Workers need to be accountable for health

By Stephanie Goldberg, Crain News Service

DALLAS (May 21, 2014) — Employers are tweaking their healthcare programs and, in turn, are expecting workers to take a more active role in their health.

Julie Stone, leader of business process benefits, health and group benefits at Towers Watson & Co., said of the new healthcare landscape that employers are implementing healthy lifestyle programs and activities for workers and developing workplace cultures in which employees are responsible for their own health.

“The commitment to workforce health is clear, and that translates in many different ways in organizations — from building a culture…in your worksite, onsite healthcare, to just how you design your plans and what you incent people to do or not do,” Ms. Stone said May 19 during a session on navigating healthcare reform at WorldatWork’s 2014 Total Rewards Conference in Dallas.

Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health asked employers what their top priorities were via the 2014 “Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Healthcare,” released in March. Ms. Stone, who is based in Parsippany, N.J., said developing a workplace culture where employees feel personally accountable for their health was at the top of employers’ list.

Healthy workers tend to be more productive, present and fully functioning, which has a direct link to the employer’s bottom line, Ms. Stone said.

“The healthier your workforce, the lower your cost,” she said. “It’s another way of reducing your spend before the excise tax without having to take away from a benefit design perspective.”

She said it’s important for employers to build a strategy around the federal healthcare reform law’s 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health coverage that takes effect in 2018.

“About 60 percent of the organizations that we’ve surveyed and work with are likely to hit the excise tax if there aren’t changes made to the costs of benefits,” Ms. Stone said, adding that 71 percent of employers surveyed expect to change their health plans in preparation for the excise tax.

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This report appeared on businessinsurance.com, the website of Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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