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Employees like wellness programs – unless they're charged

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Many employees object to wellness programs that charge more for non-participation or not meeting health goals, according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"While the large majority (76 percent) of the public thinks it is appropriate for employers to offer wellness programs that promote healthy behaviors, most (62 percent) believe it is not appropriate for employers to require workers to pay more for their health insurance premiums if they don’t participate," the poll says.

The poll also tested whether arguments for (“workers who are unhealthy drive up health care costs and are more likely to be absent from work”) and against (“it is an invasion of worker’s privacy and may unfairly penalize some people who are unable to meet health goals”) outcome-based wellness programs have an impact on the public’s view and found that responses were similar with and without arguments.

After hearing the arguments, 70 percent of respondents said it is not appropriate for employers to have those types of programs, Kaiser said.

Kaiser notes that Obamacare builds on existing policies to encourage employers to begin offering wellness programs to their workers or expand their existing programs.

"Among working-age adults who get their insurance through an employer, about half (48 percent) say their employer offers some type of wellness program, including 27 percent who say their employer offers a participatory program, 2 percent who say their employer offers an outcome-based program, and 16 percent who say they offer both types of programs," Kaiser said.

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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