CALL FOR ACTION: Showcase The Value of Workplace Wellness Incentives

CCA has reviewed the March 2013 Health Affairs article discussing the use of incentives in wellness programs. The authors’ conclusions are not reflective of the evidence and experience of CCA members in implementing health contingent wellness programs. In addition, the title of the article seems to be unduly inflammatory, and not fully supported by the analysis.

We are concerned that the timing of this publication could adversely affect the nature of the forthcoming regulations on non-discriminatory wellness programs.  Therefore, the Care Continuum Alliance is:

  1. Alerting our members and the industry to the potential impact of this negative-toned article in the current regulatory and policy environment;
  2. Conducting a comprehensive literature review including CCA’s recent research on Participant Engagement and the Use of Incentives;
  3. Issuing a Call for Case Studies from the CCA membership to address the points made in the Health Affairs article;
  4. Calling our members to a concerted action in response to the assertions made in this article:
    1. Respond to CCA’s Call for Case Studies.
    2. Read Care Continuum Alliance Evidence Statements: The Use of Incentives in Employer-Sponsored Wellness Programs.
    3. Attend CCA Capitol Caucus, on April 11, where discussions on incentives and other regulatory issues will be center stage. Learn more and register today.
    4. Highlight your organization’s research and outcomes on incentives for wellness programs through media and public outreach.

Article’s Key Points

The article Wellness Incentives In The Workplace: Cost Savings Through Cost Shifting To Unhealthy, published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs, offers a conceptual framework for assessing whether health-contingent wellness programs are effective in achieving cost-savings through health improvement. The authors determine that the relationship between high-risk health conditions/ behaviors and increased healthcare costs is not definitive; conclude that the current evidence on the effectiveness of incentives in behavior change science is ambiguous; and posit that demonstrated cost-savings from wellness programs may result from cost-shifting and placing an undue burden on those of lower socioeconomic status.

Our Response

CCA is developing a more detailed, comprehensive, and evidence-based response, which will incorporate our members’ research.

Please submit your case studies, experience and evidence illustrating the following points:

  • CCA members engage in rigorous program evaluations and scientific assessments with ample data to ensure wellness programs are appropriately designed and tailored to improved health outcomes.
  • Significant evidence suggests a clear relationship between high-risk health conditions/ behaviors and increased healthcare costs.
  • Years of epidemiological data clearly show that a healthy lifestyle reduces the likelihood of disease.
  • CCA acknowledges that current evidence yields mixed outcomes on the effectiveness of incentives in behavior change science. Though, as program innovation continues, a growing body of research positively indicates that incentives can, in some cases, facilitate behavior change to increase patient engagement in wellness programs.
  • Appropriate incentive and wellness program design can produce cost savings for employers without any cost shifting to less healthy employees.
  • The value of wellness programs extends beyond direct healthcare cost-savings. As one component of an organizational culture of health, wellness programs can produce additional positive outcomes such as workforce productivity, aside from short-term Return On Investment.

The final rules on Incentives for Nondiscriminatory Wellness Programs in Group Health Plans from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Labor are under development and expected in the coming months. In addition, there is concern about the possibility of lawsuits. Read CCA Letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius on Incentives for Wellness Programs.

CCA’s Actions

Your Actions

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