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Most employers using health management

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Nearly half of U.S. employers that offer health management programs to their employees also offer incentives to boost employee participation, a survey shows.

Seventy-six percent of midsize and large U.S. manufacturers and corporations are offering programs to manage or maintain employees' current level of health, according to a survey conducted jointly by the ERISA Industry Committee and the National Assn. of Manufacturers, both based in Washington, and IncentOne, Lyndhurst, N.J.-based provider of incentive programs to employers.

The Web-based survey, which had responses from 242 employers, found that 47% of respondents offer both health management programs and incentives; of the three-quarters with such health management programs, two-thirds provide employee incentives.

The most common incentive is premium reductions, offered by 40.4% of companies using incentives. Cash or bonuses were the second most-common incentive, offered by 28.9% of companies, according to the survey released last week at America's Health Insurance Plans' annual meeting in Las Vegas.

A "surprising" number of employers offering incentives—62%—had not attempted to measure return on investment, while only 14% indicated they had successfully measured ROI, noted Edwina Rogers, vp-health policy for the ERISA Industry Committee.

Sixteen percent of employers said their ROI analysis was not complete, while 8% tried to measure ROI but were unsuccessful.

About 70% of employers said health management programs need to have a better-than-even ROI to be acceptable, while only 8% found it acceptable to have a program that did not break even.

About 80% of employers not offering health management programs are uncertain whether such programs will be offered or say they will not be offered in the near future, according to the survey.

The next objective for the health care industry is to target the 25% of major employers that have not offered health management programs, followed by encouraging small businesses and then the government to utilize such incentives, Ms. Rogers said.

"It's just a matter of spreading the good information and then it will be automatic," she said.

The report, which is free of charge following registration, is at www.incentone.com/skin.cfm?page=survey_results_form.