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MBGH Releases Survey on Employer Views on Preventive Care Benefits

Thursday, August 19, 2010 Corporate News J E 4
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Employees aren't taking advantage of programs; employers focus on education and removing barriers to access to improve health and productivity while reducing costs

CHICAGO, Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) released the results of its recent employer membership survey on preventive care benefits. The study was conducted to determine the extent to which employers are adopting approaches that support the use of screenings, vaccinations, and education.

The survey findings are timely as the White House recently announced the Affordable Care Act which goes into effect on September 23 that requires new insurance plans to provide preventive care without cost-sharing. While this will remove financial barriers for many Americans to preventive services such as mammograms, colonoscopies and immunizations – employers are working to determine the impact on their benefits plans and health care expenses.

"Employers are increasingly investing resources in preventive care and wellness programs to reduce health care costs and improve the health and productivity of their employees," said Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO. "We conducted this survey to help employers understand the importance of health management and wellness in managing health care costs and realizing healthy and productive employees. We hope health care purchasers will use the recommendations resulting from this research to increase utilization in areas that will provide the most bang for their buck."

Research findings

  • Almost all employers (97%) agreed that they have a role in offering preventive care services, such as screenings and vaccines, to their covered populations.
  • The top three reasons for doing so: keep employees healthy (84%), keep employees productive (59%), and to reduce medical disability costs and prevent illness (94%).
  • Almost half (48%) of employers have a high benefit cap of more than $1,000 to encourage use of preventive services.
  • Screening services covered by more than 90% of the responding employers include: annual screenings, well child visits, pap smears, breast exams, prostate exams, colorectal cancer screenings and employee assistance program services.
  • The top barriers to get employees to use preventive benefits are: a lack of understanding of value of preventive services (88%); no motivation to stay healthy (56%); and difficulty in taking time during the work day (47%).

Recommendations for employers

Preventing illness before it starts is key to keeping employees healthy and reducing health care costs for employers. To ensure employees take advantage of preventive services, employers should focus more on education and communication, remove barriers to access and better align incentives to encourage employees to actively take care of their health.

This study was supported by an unrestricted grant from Merck & Co. Inc. The research is part of a series of benchmarking surveys conducted by MBGH to enable public and private purchasers to compare benefit strategies, designs, issues and challenges. In the past year, MBGH studies have covered health reform, wellness hypertension and migraine management programs, sick leave policies, and onsite clinic ROI.

About the Midwest Business Group on Health

Celebrating 30 years of advancing value in health benefits management, the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) is one of the nation's leading business groups of private and public employers. MBGH's more than 100 members represent over 3 million lives, spending more than $3 billion on health care benefits annually. MBGH member benefits include health benefit education seminars, networking opportunities, research, demonstration projects and community initiatives. MBGH is a founding member of the National Business Coalition on Health. www.mbgh.org

SOURCE Midwest Business Group on Health

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