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More Employers Offer Health Plans That Link Deductibles With Employee Health

Armen Hareyan's picture

USA Todayon Wednesday examined the "growing effort by employers to both shiftadditional medical costs to workers and provide incentives for workersto pay more attention to their own health."

For example, UnitedHealthcarethis month plans to offer to mid-sized employers in Rhode Island,Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado a high-deductible health plan underwhich employees could help offset the cost of the deductible --provided that they meet specific standards for nicotine use, bloodpressure and cholesterol levels, and height-weight ratio in testsconducted at a workplace clinic administered by BeniComp, a benefits administrator in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Employeeswho meet the specific standards could receive as many as four creditsvalued at $500 each to help offset the cost of the deductible.Employees who do not meet the specific standards could enroll inweight-loss and other health management classes throughUnitedHealthcare.

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Supplemental Plan

In 2004, Swiss Village Retirement Community,a not-for-profit company in Berne, Ind., implemented a similar healthplan. Swiss Village switched employees from a health plan with a $500annual deductible to a plan with a $2,500 annual deductible. SwissVillage also offered employees a supplemental plan sponsored byBeniComp under which they can receive credits valued at as much as$2,000, provided that they maintain a healthy weight, do not smoke, andmeet specific standards for blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

DarylMartin, executive director of Swiss Village, said that health carecosts for the company have decreased from 11.5% of wages before theswitch to 9.1% in the first year after the switch and to 7.5%thereafter. As a result, health insurance premiums for Swiss Villageemployees have not increased in three years, Martin said. BeniCompoffers the supplemental plan in 37 states.

According to USA Today,the "policies are among the first to set a financial price forachieving actual results, rather than just making attempts to controlconditions thought to play a role in development of illnesses such asheart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke" (Appleby, USA Today, 7/11).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.