KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Pittsburgh Companies Use Wellness Programs To Keep Health Costs Down

Pittsburgh companies are using wellness incentives in the workplace to trim their health care costs as "small businesses prepare for a lift in their efforts to keep workers healthy, courtesy of health care reform," the Pittsburgh Business Times reports.

"Benefit managers know that only a small group of employees drive health care costs, so consults for problems such as diabetes and heart failure are intended to avoid costly hospitalizations through proper management." The newspaper reports on a related new trend in which a growing number of employees "are choosing the Internet rather than the telephone for reminders about preventive health measures, and employers are making it easier for workers to comply with medical regimens by waiving copays associated with some prescription drugs and devices. The result overall is sweeter incentives for participating in wellness programs." In exchange for participation in disease management programs, employers often waive copays for some medications to ward off disease like medications to control blood sugar or high blood pressure. Additionally, small businesses may be enticed to offer wellness programs because of the possibility of $50,000 grants to start programs from the federal government authorized through the health reform law (Mamula, 6/28).

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