biometric screening workplace wellness

Companies Use Biometric Screenings to Help Design Workplace Wellness Programs

Yesterday we reported on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s  2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey, which includes important insights around the benefits of a well-run workplace wellness program.

The report highlights the growing role that companies see for a well-run workplace wellness program in terms of helping reduce over health costs and improve employee health: “Firms continue to show considerable interest in programs that help workers identify health issues and manage chronic conditions. Many employers believe that improving the health of their workers and their family members can improve morale, productivity and reduce health care costs. In addition to wellness programs, many large firms use disease management programs to help workers manage chronic conditions.”

The report also notes the importance of biometric screenings: “Biometric screening is a health examination that measures a person’s risk factors (such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI)) for certain medical issues. A biometric outcome involves assessing whether an enrollee meets specified health targets related to certain risk factors, such as meeting a target BMI or cholesterol level. As defined by this survey, goals related to smoking are not included in the biometric screening questions.”

While biometric screenings are a key way to help design a personalized wellness program for employees, the report shows that room exists for companies to utilize this important tool more.

  • “Among firms offering health benefits, 21% of small firms and 52% of large firms provide workers the opportunity to complete a biometric screening.”
  • “In firms providing workers the opportunity to complete a biometric screening, 41% of covered workers complete a screening.”
  • “There is considerable variation across firms in the percentage of workers who complete a biometric screening. Twenty-two percent of large firms providing workers the opportunity to complete a biometric screening report that more than 75% of their workers complete the screening, while 26% report no more than 25% of workers complete the screening.”

And again, incentives can play an important role in helping drive behavior:

  • “Among large firms with biometric screening programs, 53% offer workers an incentive to complete the screening. The likelihood of a firm with a biometric screening program offering an incentive to complete a biometric screening increases with firm size. Some firms report offering more than one type of incentive.”
  • “Among large firms with an incentive for workers to complete a biometric screening, 49% lower premium contributions or reduce cost sharing and 33% offer cash, HRA or HSA contributions, or allow the worker to avoid a payroll deduction. As with incentives for health risk assessments, workers in some firms must complete the biometric screening to be eligible for other rewards under the firm’s wellness programs.”
  • “In addition to incentives for completing a biometric screening, some firms offer workers incentives to meet biometric outcomes. Among large firms with biometric screening programs, 14% reward or penalize workers based on achieving specified biometric outcomes (such as meeting a target BMI).”