National Survey: Middle Market Employers See Twofold Increase in Wellness Programs in 2013

Wellness Coaching and Online Resources See Biggest Increase in Popularity Among Wellness Offerings, Nation’s Largest Health Plan Benefits Survey Finds

Indianapolis, Ind., [April 10, 2014] — Newly released survey data from United Benefit Advisors shows that 19.2% of the four most popular insurance plans (CDHP, PPO, HMO, POS), offer a wellness program, with CDHPs continuing to lead the trend with 26.9% offering such programs. The highest percentage of plans offering wellness programs came from employers with 1,000 or more employees (58.2%), however, middle market employers with 100 to199 employees increased their wellness offerings by approximately 12.5% in 2013 — double that of any other employer size subset. Surprisingly, employers with 1,000-plus employees decreased their wellness offerings by 0.7%.

Of the nearly 11,000 employers surveyed, 19.2% offer some sort of wellness program. Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) remain the most popular offering with 81% of plans participating, 62.3% offer incentive awards (a 3.1% decrease), 61.3% offer a physical exam (a 1.1% decrease); the programs that saw the biggest increase were coaching at 56.2% (a 4.9% increase) and online wellness portals at 54.7% (a 4.7% increase).

“The key to successful wellness with high employee engagement is to develop programs employees actually want to participate in,” says Lisa Weston, Director of Employee Wellness Promotion for the bagnall company, a UBA Partner Firm. “Carefully planned wellness programs can be extremely effective, but you must assess employee’s needs with an HRA or biometric data and also assess their desires with interest and incentive surveys. The goal is to offer something for everyone, make it appealing and very accessible. Of course, constant benefit communication is also a key element to success, because in order to use these programs, employees have to know about them.”

Survey results revealed that interest in wellness programs increased in all industry groups with the exception of wholesale/retail, which also experienced the highest rates of employee turnover.

“Moving toward prevention-based care will be the key that helps both employers and employees pull health care costs back from the edge of crisis over the long term,” says Rob Calise, UBA Board Chairman.

“Decreasing health care costs is important; but when it comes to wellness, we really are more interested in how employers are using wellness data to make the case of boosted engagement,” continues Weston. “Value is placed on return on investment in the long run, which can be measured in terms of worker productivity. The question employers should ask themselves is, ‘What target am I trying to hit?’ Then they should plan their program accordingly.”

For further details about wellness and other group health insurance trends, download a copy of the 2013 UBA Health Plan Survey Executive Summary at Customized health plan benchmarking reports are available from a UBA Partner Firm near you:

About the UBA Health Plan Survey
Data in the 2013 UBA Health Plan Survey, the nation’s largest health benefits survey, are based on responses from 10,551 employers sponsoring 16,928 health plans nationwide. Results are applicable to the small to mid-size companies that comprise approximately 98% of the nation’s five million-plus employers, as well as to larger employers, providing benchmarking data on a more detailed level than any other survey.

About United Benefit Advisors
United Benefit Advisors is the nation’s leading independent employee benefits advisory organization with more than 200 offices throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. As trusted and knowledgeable advisors, UBA Partners collaborate with nearly 2,000 fellow professionals to deliver expertise, thought leadership and best-in-class solutions that positively impact employers and make a real difference in the lives of their employees and families. Employers, advisors and industry-related organizations interested in obtaining powerful results from the shared wisdom of our Partners should visit UBA online at

Carina Sammartino
csammartino (at) fishervista (dot) com
(650) 477-4839