Weekly Article Roundup | 05.11.12

News and articles from this past week. 

The 5 Mega-Trends That Are Changing the Face of Health Care
The Atlantic
By Chris Rivard & Karl Rebay As the nation’s highest court weighs the fate of President Obama’s health care reform legislation, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: No matter what the nine justices ultimately decide, significant change is coming …

Obesity in the US projected to grow, though pace slows: CDC study
Obesity in the United States is projected to continue its rise over the next 18 years, extending to 42% of Americans by 2030, according to a study released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.That expected growth in the proportion of obese Americans — up from 34% — contained good news and bad: Obesity’s growth has slowed from the record-setting pace that has marked most of the last three decades; at the same time, the numbers of the severely obese — those carrying 80 or more pounds more than the healthy, normal weight for their height — is expected to grow by 130%.

U.S. Report Outlines Strategies to Prevent Obesity
USNews & World Report
The IOM strategies include: integrating physical activity into people’s daily lives; making healthy food and beverage choices available everywhere; changing marketing about nutrition and physical activity; using schools to promote healthy weight; and urging employers and health care professionals to support healthy lifestyles.

U.S. exercises half as much as it should
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults ages 18-64 get about 4 hours of physical activity each week by exercising moderately for 2.5 hours per week and engaging in a vigorous activity — running and muscle strengthening — for an 1 hour and 15 minutes per week. The study Americans spend, on average, only about 2 hours each week participating in sports and fitness activities.

Fitness in Middle Age Lowers Medical Costs Later: Study
Subsidizing exercise and fitness-related lifestyles in middle age could significantly reduce the ballooning cost of health care in later years, a new study of more than 20,000 people suggests. The study, slated for Thursday presentation at an American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta, found that fit middle-aged men and women had significantly lower medical expenses later in life compared to people who failed to stay in shape.

7 in 10 employers offer wellness benefits
Seven in 10 employers provide wellness benefits, including flu shots, health screenings and weight management programs, which are contributing to the improved lives of their employees, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ recent survey, Wellness Programs and Value-Based Health Care. The survey shows that wellness programs have become more popular over the past 10 years, and while nearly…


Weekly Article Roundup | 04.06.12

Interesting reads from this past week. 

More U.S. employers tie health insurance to medical tests
USA Today
Gone are the days of just signing up for health insurance and hoping you don’t have to use it. Now, more employees are being asked to roll up their sleeves for medical tests — and to exercise, participate in disease-management programs and quit smoking to qualify for hundreds, even thousands of dollars’ worth of premium or deductible discounts. Proponents say such plans offer people a financial incentive to make healthier choices and manage chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, which are driving up health care costs in the USA.

Lifetimes of Tech Changes
Human Resource Executive
The days of IT owning HR technology are now basically over. We’ve already seen the trend of business units taking ownership of HR technology and working with IT as a partner and also using third-party partners. While IT support continues to be critical — even in the age of hands-off SaaS — HR and the business units must complete the process of taking control over HCM software.

Study: Obesity trumps smoking when it comes to impact on long-term healthcare …
Drug Store News
Obesity adds more to healthcare costs than smoking does, according to a study published in the March Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental …

Tech’s Top 10
Human Resource Executive
The world’s “Most Powerful HR Technology Experts,” as selected by the editors of Human Resource Executive®, offer HR leaders their thoughts and advice concerning today’s and tomorrow’s HR technology trends and challenges.

Weekly Article Roundup | 03.30.12

All the news you need from this past week.

Survey: Health care reform splits employers
Workforce Management
Forty percent of employers want the high court, which is hearing oral arguments this week on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to strike down the 2010 law. But an even greater percentage of employers—43 percent—do not want the justices to reject the law, while the remaining 17 percent said they didn’t know, according to the survey of 437 employers conducted by the Midwest Business Group on Health and co-sponsored by the National Business Coalition on Health, Workforce Management and sister publication Business Insurance.

Study: Wellness programs improve health
The survey was completed by 361 organizations representing a broad spectrum of industries in the Chicago healthcare marketplace. Wellness programs varied by organization, but activities included health-risk assessments, questionnaires, screenings for blood-pressure and cholesterol, and smoking cessation, weight management and nutrition programs.

Financial impact of health reform on employer benefits not as significant as anticipated
In spite of employer fears, the financial impact of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have not been as significant as anticipated for most businesses and fewer U.S. employers responded that they plan to drop coverage due to the law’s mandate than was reported in 2010. These are some of the key findings from a new 2012 employer survey conducted by the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) and co-sponsored by the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH), Business Insurance and Workforce Management.

10 lesser known effects of health care reform law
But the health care reform law gives companies incentives to start wellness initiatives. Small business got incentives in 2011, when companies with fewer than 100 employees working at least 25 hours per week became eligible for wellness program grants.

Benefits decision-makers cite wellness, voluntary benefits among top 5 cost-control strategies
Employee Benefit News
Employers across America face unprecedented challenges in providing competitive employee benefits while still controlling costs. Public-sector employers face additional obstacles from revenue shortfalls and increased public scrutiny of government spending. Yet employers, both public and private, have access to many proven solutions that can help them control and even reduce costs while continuing to offer a strong benefits package.

Dash, The Employee Health App
A great new app by Virgin HealthMiles, of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is taking seriously the responsibility companies have for the health of their employees. Based around the idea of providing wellness activities and mobile incentives for its users, this app has an accelerometer that tracks steps and workout calories and then syncs the info to the users’ Virgin HealthMiles account. The Dash app allows users to …

Family health care costs to exceed $20,000 this year
Three days of Supreme Court arguments have left the fate of the 2010 health care reform law uncertain. What is certain, however, is that health care costs are continuing to eat away at consumers’ budgets. The cost to cover the typical family of four under an employer plan is expected to top $20,000 on health care this year, up more than 7% from last year, according to early projections by independent actuarial and health care consulting firm Milliman Inc. In 2002, the cost was just $9,235, the firm said.

Weight and inactivity are threatening to overtake tobacco as risk factors for cancer
American Cancer Society
Unfortunately, the incidence of some cancers continues to increase. And, as explained very clearly in this excellent report, this nation continues to suffer from an epidemic of overweight, obesity and physical activity that the authors suggest-but don’t actually say-has the potential to overcome the favorable impact of declining smoking and tobacco use on cancer incidence and deaths. The implication is clear that if we don’t do something-and do something quickly-to reverse the trend we will see incidence and deaths from certain cancers continue to increase in the future.

Weekly Article Roundup | 03.23.12

All the news you need from this past week.

The lifecycle costs of obesity in health and financial terms: the true math
Health Populi
About 50% of women and men in the U.S. are projected to be obese by 2030. The majority of people in America concur that the nation has an obesity problem. What’s been unknown and underestimated is just how much the epidemic is costing the nation in both health and financial terms…

Population-Based Approaches Revolutionize Workplace Wellness
Corp! Magazine
Poor health cripples a workplace. It debilitates employees, as well as business profitability. Factor in rising health care costs and U.S. businesses are being forced to abandon the “same old, same old” approach to corporate wellness.

Benefits Professionals Name Top Five Priorities for 2012
The Top Five Total Rewards Priorities Survey series, sponsored by Deloitte, LLP, and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS), is an annual barometer of talent and benefits management challenges facing organizations.

I was going to exercise but…
Chicago Tribune
Dozens of things can derail a workout. You’re too tired, too hungry or too stressed. You’re bored with your workout or progressing too slowly. Your favorite machine is occupied or the swimming pool is closed for repairs. Your throat is sore or your knee hurts. The American Council on Exercise calls these …

Survey: Successful Companies Have an Employee-Focused Culture
The report concentrates on three areas: the HR focus and landscape in 2012, the nature of assessment use in organizations, and the use of technology in HR processes. There’s a lot in this survey, but here are some of the highlights.

Really? Carrying a cold bottle aids exercise
New York Times
Studies of athletes have found that wearing cooling vests or similar items during exercise can help lower the rate at which the core temperature rises, delaying fatigue, improving performance and causing less perceived effort. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown that the simple act of carrying a cold thermos can have the same effect in people who are overweight.

Obesity costly in more ways than one
The Chattanoogan
It’s known that obesity takes a toll on physical health, often leading to chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and joint problems. What many don’t recognize is the financial burden associated with obesity — costs that go far beyond the obese individual.

Weekly Article Roundup | 03.09.12

All the news you need from this past week. 

Leveling Up Your Corporate Wellness Program: Utilizing Gamification to Make Wellness Fun and Engaging
Corporate Wellness Magazine
Before your organization sets out to incorporate game mechanics into your employee health strategy, it’s important to first do some thinking.  Keep in mind that “gamifying health” isn’t the end goal, but merely one strategy for creating a healthier workforce.  Game mechanics help your employees easily learn how they can participate in your programs, what they need to do to make healthy behavior changes and better…

WorldatWork: Employee Wellness Programs Expand to Well-Being
Organizations’ health & wellness offerings have expanded beyond traditional programs (that primarily focus on physical health) to integrated well-being programs that now include mental and emotional health, financial health, work-life effectiveness, and workplace environment and stress.

Large employers increasingly see incentives as solution to health
Employee Benefit News
While there is still much discussion about whether and how incentives really work for engaging employees in wellness programs, …

26 percent of U.S. adults obese in 2011
One-in-four US adults were considered obese in 2011, a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found. The index used Americans’ self-reported height and weight to calculate body mass index scores. The 2011 metro area findings …

As cost increases stabilize, employers remain aggressive about healthcare cost-cutting
Employee Benefit News
Although the rate of health care cost increases is expected to remain stable in 2012, employers are taking more aggressive steps to manage their rising costs and improve employee health, according to findings from the 2012 Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care.

Survey reports that just over 10 percent of American adults regularly practice healthy habits – lack of time is a culprit
American Heart Association
Are you one of the many Americans not practicing healthy habits? A recent American Heart Association survey reports only 12 percent of American adults regularly practice all of these healthy habits: good nutrition, exercise and oral care.  Of those that listed an excuse for not following through with healthy habits, the most common culprit is said to be a lack of time.

PFCD Announces Sponsorship of National Employee Wellness Month
HealthWorks Collective
This June marks the fourth annual National Employee Wellness Month, an initiative that provides business leaders with fresh ideas and proven strategies around prevention and wellness. At the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, we know …

How Exercise Can Change Your DNA
Time Healthland
Exercise does a lot of good things — it burns calories, helps keep your weight in check and lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Now add one more thing to the list: physical activity can change your DNA.

Weekly Article Roundup | 02.17.12

News from this past week.

New IBI Research Finds CFOs Play Critical Role in Health Care Benefits Decisions
Sacramento Bee
C-suite understands the impact of employee health on financial performance and ability to compete in a global economy SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — According to …

Fewer Americans Have Employer-Based Health Insurance
WASHINGTON, DC — Fewer Americans got their health insurance from an employer in 2011 (44.6%) than in 2010 (45.8%), continuing the downward trend Gallup and Healthways have documented since 2008. As employer-based health insurance has declined, …

Exercise a Defense Against Dementia: Study
HealthDay News
Here’s another reason to get into shape: Physical activity may reduce the risk of dementia-related death, according to a new study. Researchers assessed the health of more than 45,000 men and nearly 15,000 women, ages 20 to 88 years, in the United States and grouped them into one of three fitness categories — low, middle or high.

US Healthcare Costs Annual Growth Rates Show Broad Based Increases in December …
Across the board, healthcare costs as measured by annual rates of change went up in the last month of the year. The S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index indicates that the average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial …

Weekly Article Roundup | 01.13.12

All the news you need from this past week.

US healthcare spending rises 3.9% in 2010
Los Angeles Times
A sign questioning patients about their medical insurance is posted in the emergency room of Jamaica Hospital in New York. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press) By Laurie McGinley, Los Angeles Times US healthcare spending grew at the second-lowest rate on …

2012 HR Technology Forecast
Workforce Management
2011 was the year employees and human resources departments went mobile, recruiters embraced social networks, managers coped with increasingly virtual workforces and a hot market for HR tech mergers and acquisitions culminated in SAP’s plan to swallow SuccessFactors. In 2012, expect technology innovations to continue sending shock waves through the HR department.

Working for wellness
Charleston Post Courier
Virgin HealthMiles provides pedometers to 1000 employees to track the number of … Employees can receive up to $500 a year for earning 36000 HealthMiles. …

Save big by losing pounds
…Experts say even a slight drop in weight can shave $50 or more from insurance premiums, while joining a gym may trigger rebates of up to $500 from an employer or insurer. Over time, the savings from getting — and staying — healthier multiply….

5% of patients account for half of health care spending
By Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY WASHINGTON – Just 1% of Americans accounted for 22% of health care costs in 2009, according to a federal report released Wednesday. By Mark Wilson, Getty Images In Nov., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius …

Weekly Article Roundup | 01.06.12

All the news you need from this past week.

More consumers choosing high-deductible plans
American Medical News
Enrollment in high-deductible plans rose from 14% of insured adults in 2010 to 16% in 2011, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, which surveyed 4703 adults from age 21 to 64 who had employer-based insurance. The EBRI defines as being …

A corporate culture of health (or else)
The Boston Globe
Edmundson’s company is trying to be on the leading edge of wellness reforms; it’s using the data from its screenings to set up corporate wellness programs. (Executives get aggregate results, but not individual ones.) The company is trying to create a …

Incorporating happiness into the workplace
Chicago Tribune
…We’re inclined to assume that companies care only about the bottom line. That assumption remains reasonable. However, economists have been giving more serious consideration to the idea that money shouldn’t be the lone measurement of a country’s success, that overall well-being should be a factor. And that thinking has begun trickling down to businesses…

Private insurers forming their own health insurance exchanges
American Medical News
UnitedHealth Group subsidiary OptumHealth announced in August 2011 that it would buy Connextions, an Orlando, Fla.-based company working on exchanges, …

At CES, Expect More Gadgets Telling You to Get Off the Couch
All Things Digital
He also predicts that, in near future, more corporations will begin to institute health-incentive programs, like Virgin’s HealthMiles program, …

Weekly Article Roundup | 12.16.11

News and insights from this past week.

Finance, HR Executives See Roles Changing in the Wake of Health Reform, Towers …
NEW YORK, Dec 15, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — A tighter partnership between corporate finance and human resource executives may be on the horizon as US companies begin to address the implications of health care reform for their reward programs and talent …

Average cost of health care services on the rise
Over the year ended October, the S&P Healthcare Economic Composite index recorded a 5.11% annual increase, marking a significant rise over the 4.74% annual growth rate posted in September. Healthcare costs covered by commercial insurance increased by …

Gallup: Americans exercised less in Nov.
In November, 1000 US adults were asked daily about their exercise habits as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Typically, Americans exercise the most in the summer and taper off in the fall and exercise the least in December. …

Brief, Intense Exercise Lowers Blood Sugar, Small Study Finds
Lack of time is a common reason cited for not exercising, but new research suggests that several short intensive workouts a week may help lower blood sugar levels similarly to longer, more regular exercise regimens. The small, new study found that 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week …

Weekly Article Roundup | 12.02.11

All the news you need from this past week.

St. Joseph Health: Learning to ‘Choose Well’
North Bay Business Journal
St. Joseph Health System, the second largest private employer in Sonoma County with over 2,400 employees, offers wellness options for employees through its Choose Well program, which has a 40 percent employee participation rate — meaning more than 900 employees are embracing the wellness concept. …

virgin healthmiles hits refresh: free-ranging conversation with katie tierney
free-range communication
back in april 2011, i spoke with tom abshire about virgin healthmiles’ pay-for-prevention approach. since our conversation, virgin’s added several new features to their platform that benefit employee and employer alike. they released an integrated incentives platform in their summer ‘11 release and enhanced social features in their fall ‘11 one. i caught up with katie tierney, virgin’s director of marketing, to learn more about both.

More exercise results in healthier eating
People who exercise also start to eat better and as a result their brain may change, U.S. researchers suggest. Miguel Alonso, a researcher at Harvard University in Boston, said data from epidemiological studies suggest tendencies toward a healthy diet and the right amount of physical exercise often come hand in hand…

MBGH Releases Employer Recommendations to Help Maximize Health …
… series of recommendations to better structure the design, communication and delivery of benefits, wellness incentives and health management activities.

Trane is a Fit-Friendly company
Walton Sun
She said the company’s HealthMiles program serves as motivation to walk more. Employees are given pedometers and encouraged to track how much they walk. …