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Survey Finds Wellness Strategies Gaining Traction as Way to Curb Health Cost Increases

From the National Business Coalition on Health: Global costs for employee health benefits are expected to increase this year, but wellness programs are gaining traction as a way to keep people healthier and lower long-term costs, according to the 2012 Towers Watson Global Medical Trends Survey of insurers. Towers Watson officials say the rate of cost increases is slowing and 29% of insurers reported using wellness programs as one way to control costs.

While traditional cost management approaches continue to dominate, wellness programs and health promotion strategies are gaining traction as employers look to promote healthy lifestyles among their employees and improve outcomes.

The 2012 survey of 237 leading medical insurers in 48 countries reveals that the global cost of employee medical benefits is expected to increase 9.6% this year. While this is slightly lower than the 9.8% increase experienced in 2011 and 10.2% increase in 2009, costs are expected to continue to increase at double-digit levels in four of the five global regions this year, with only Europe expecting to see single-digit increases.

As cost increases have remained somewhat constant, so have the top cost drivers. The three factors cited most often, which repeat from 2011, are new medical technology causing overuse of care (cited by 52% of survey respondents), practitioners recommending too many services (50%) and providers’ profit motives (31%).

Posted by Cristie Travis at 7:52 AM

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