Employers Focusing on Biometric Data, Technology to Control Health-Care Costs

Aug. 16, 2012 — Employers are continuing to enhance their wellness programs to change employee behavior and move toward health outcomes that positively affect the bottom line. At the same time, many are capitalizing on benefits automation tools, although a significant proportion of companies — even large ones — have yet to realize the full potential for cost savings and operational efficiency.

These are the findings from the third annual bswift "2012 Wellness & benefits Administration Benchmarking Study," conducted in conjunction with Employee Benefit News. More than 340 employee benefits and HR professionals from the private and public sectors participated in the study.

"Employers are actively modifying and upgrading their wellness programs as they learn from experience, putting a greater emphasis on employee incentives and the use of biometric data," said Rich Gallun, bswift CEO. "The study shows that organizations are not waiting for absolute clarity on the future of national health reform to get a grip on health expenditures and to improve the health of their employees and dependents through wellness programs."

Of companies with more than 500 employees:

  • 76% now offer some form of incentives to motivate employee participation in wellness programs. The most commonly incentivized components include health risk assessments and tobacco cessation programs.
  • 60% now incorporate biometric testing (measuring such health indicators and blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI) into their wellness programs, and 40% of employers offering wellness programs also provide incentives (e.g., credits toward health-benefit contributions) to employees for completing tests.
  • Employers are beginning to incentivize employees to achieve specific biometric targets: 10% have taken this step, a practice many previously considered to be overly intrusive.
  • 34% of respondents reported using entirely paper-based benefits enrollment processes for newly hired employees, and 81% manually monitor incomplete enrollments to alert new hires or do not alert them at all.
  • 36% have an automated dependent age-out process for canceling coverage (e.g., reaching age 26).
  • 34% still manually reconcile paper health insurance invoices against benefits records or do not reconcile at all.

The study also includes data on the cost impact of an effective wellness program and a fully automated benefits administration solution: 327% and 410% risk-adjusted ROI, respectively.

"The findings are clear," Callun said. "Employers continue to leave money on the table when it comes to benefits administration. We anticipate that the unrelenting pressures to improve organizational performance and profitability will drive more employers to implement fully automated solutions to save money in order to free up staff and also detect costly errors."

Contents © 2012 WorldatWork. For more information, contact the Copyright Department at WorldatWork.