Check out this discouraging news from a recent Hewitt survey, The Road Ahead: Emerging Health Trends 2009. Nineteen percent of 343 Benefits executives they surveyed are planning to stop offering health benefits over the next three to five years, nearly five times as many as the 4% that said they were planning an exit strategy last year.
On the better news front, those employers planning to continue to provide health benefits are citing keeping employees healthy as their primary workforce issue in 2009, up from the # 2 position in 2008. This focus is reflected in workplace programs such as preventative screenings for common illnesses such as asthma, hypertension and high cholesterol as well as onsite weight management and exercise programs. While these kinds of programs can certainly help employers manage their healthcare expenses, they also send a message to employees about their personal accountability for managing their own health risk factors.
Although the Workforce Institute doesn’t typically focus on benefits issues, this issue is one that dovetails with our recent observations that organizations that involve employees in being part of the expense management solution can drive better results in the long term than those who don’t.