According to a recent survey of human resources (HR) executives conducted by Aon Consulting, 43 percent of the companies surveyed have adopted a formalized disease management and health promotion/wellness strategy for employees. Another 19 percent have been asked by senior management to explore opportunities associated with these programs.
Michele Becker, a vice president with Aon Consulting, said, "When you consider these results together with increased implementation of Consumer Driven Health Plans, it's clear that senior management has begun to embrace a more holistic approach for managing rising health care costs. Health Management programs, which encompass health promotion/wellness and disease management, are on the radar screen, with much of the interest coming from our mid-market clients. The challenge employers face is the need to balance short-term administrative costs with a desire to impact longer-term health care costs, reduce absence and improve productivity."
Regarding lifestyle risk, 62 percent of managers said obesity and physical inactivity concern them the most. Another 15 percent indicated stress as their highest priority, but only 3 percent rated smoking as their number one concern.
Becker commented, "This is an interesting finding in light of the fact that smoking remains the number one cause of early preventable death in the U.S."
When asked about chronic illness, heart disease was cited by 53 percent of respondents as their most significant concern, followed by diabetes at 11 percent.
Becker stated, "The disparity between heart disease and diabetes indicates some plan sponsors may not fully appreciate the toll diabetes can take on hypertension, heart, kidney and eye disease."
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the companies that have formal strategies in place host on-site health screenings for employees (i.e., to check for high blood pressure or cholesterol).
Becker warns, "Information obtained through these biometric screenings can help employees gain a better understanding of their risk factors, and it can be used by employers to determine what programs are most appropriate for their workforce. However, on-site screenings are expensive and employers should research market alternatives carefully to find high quality, cost-effective service providers so as not to erode potential return on investment."
Fifty-two percent of managers said they are expected to achieve return on investment (ROI) for health promotion/wellness programs, but only 16 percent said positive ROI is expected in the first year of the program. A reduction in health risk factors was cited as the most important measure of program success. Other key measures include high program participation and a reduction in utilization (e.g., reduced emergency room and office visits).
When asked about employees who choose not to participate in health management programs, survey respondents cited a lack of motivation as the primary reason (41 percent), followed by employees who were too busy to participate (21 percent), those with privacy concerns (15 percent), and those who simply don't place a high priority on getting healthier (12 percent).
Becker concluded, "Incentives increase participation, and high participation yields results. To realize ROI, companies must incorporate incentives appropriate for their workforce such as reduced contributions, wellness credits, and deposits to flexible spending accounts."
To see complete survey results, please visit http://www.aon.com/ . About Aon
Aon Corporation (NYSE: AOC) ( http://www.aon.com/ ) is a leading provider of risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, human capital and management consulting, and specialty insurance underwriting. There are 47,000 employees working in Aon's 500 offices in more than 120 countries. Backed by broad resources, industry knowledge and technical expertise, Aon professionals help a wide range of clients develop effective risk management and workforce productivity solutions.
Aon Consulting is among the top global human resources consulting firms, with 2004 revenues of $1.247 billion and 7,000 professionals in 120 offices throughout the world. Aon Consulting delivers integrated consulting solutions to help clients with employee benefits, human resources outsourcing, compensation, communication and management consulting.
Contact: Dana Sohn, Aon Consulting, +1.312.381.4786, firstname.lastname@example.org or Bianca Wright, RF Binder Partners, +1.212.994.7545, email@example.com
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SOURCE: Aon Corporation
CONTACT: Dana Sohn of Aon Consulting, +1-312-381-4786,
email@example.com , or Bianca Wright of RF Binder Partners, +1-212-994-7545,
Web site: http://www.aon.com/