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Wellness Programs Boosted By Incentives

TREVOSE, Pa., Nov. 16 (UPI) — Most U.S. companies offer wellness programs, but only one in five workers will participate without incentives, researchers say.

Melissa Van Dyke of the Incentive Research Foundation said the foundation’s report found offering incentives increases employee wellness participation by a minimum of 60 percent.

“Incentives also have a long-term impact,” Van Dyke said in a statement.

Some of the promotional products used in incentive programs range from body mass index calculators and jars filled with almonds instead of candy to wristbands, pedometers and backpacks. Many carrying printed cards with health tips, Van Dyke said.

“It’s clear from ASI’s research that companies can attain a significant return on investment through wellness programs, but while 90 percent of U.S. corporations provide employee wellness programs, only 44 percent offer promotional products as incentives for participation,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of Advertising Specialty Institute. “There’s clearly room for growth in this market. It’s good for business, and it’s great for reducing skyrocketing healthcare costs.”

With the passage of national healthcare reform in last year, businesses gained a greater incentive to offer employee wellness programs, but by 2014, companies will be able to offer rewards of up to 30 percent of the total cost of an employee’s insurance coverage, Andrews said.

Up to 75 percent of the $2.5 trillion spent every year on U.S. healthcare is used for treating preventable conditions, Van Dyke said.

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