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Wellness programs may see more funding under Affordable Care Act

Beginning in 2014, businesses will have additional leeway to use employee incentive programs in connection with wellness programs.

The Affordable Care Act will create a number of changes in the way that companies approach healthcare management. Among those changes is the increased focus on preventative care. Beginning in 2014, businesses will have additional leeway to use employee incentive programs in connection with wellness programs.

The federal law enables employers to reward staff members using lower premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Up to 30 percent of the cost of coverage could be applied to rewards or penalties under the law. This will likely encourage businesses to implement more comprehensive wellness programs to maximize the return on investment.

Studies have shown that wellness programs help motivate workers to exercise, eat right and take care of their health, which in turn increases their satisfaction at work. Employees participating in health incentive programs are more likely to have high levels of engagement. High engagement generates a number of benefits to organizations beyond lower healthcare costs. Engaged staff members are often more productive, innovative and willing to put in longer hours than non-engaged workers.

Incentives are a significant part of driving participation in wellness programs, but the programs don't stop there. Businesses need to consider how they will administer the initiatives to deliver continuous results. To see long-term benefits, companies need to align their corporate cultures around the goals laid out by their wellness programs.

"Incentives work to get the ball rolling," Steven Noeldner, senior consultant for Mercer, told Workforce. "The qualifier is you have to apply best practices."

Companies looking to implement new wellness programs can find assistance from incentive specialists like Xceleration.  Thanks to their experience helping hundreds of organizations design and manage successful employee reward programs, these specialists have the knowledge needed to maximize the results of reward programs.

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