Insurers Must Offer Health Risk Assessments to Wisconsin State Workers

We received an email from Smart Brief with the above headline. Your first question might be “What’s a Health Risk Assessment?” As they explain, it is the “Questionnaires about health habits and health status” that you might remember completing if you have an individual health insurance plan (one not provided by an employer).

Smart Brief says, “Wisconsin’s Department of Employee Trust Funds this year is requiring health plans for state employees to offer a health risk assessment and biometric screening linked to an incentive such as cash or a gift card. The state’s goal is to reduce health care costs and raise employee health awareness. Though participation is voluntary, the state aims to get 30% to 50% of workers to participate this year.”  However, when we read the full article, we found that these incentives don’t always translate into savings.

One plan “is giving $50 to state workers who complete an HRA (Health Risk Assessment) with biometric screening, plus $25 for each of four challenges: regular exercise, weight management, health education and preventive screenings. Employee participation is voluntary. Employers say they see only aggregate data, not individual data…By making workers more aware of their health status, the state hopes to improve their lives and possibly curb their $1.3 billion in annual health care costs.”

In case you’re wondering,  “biometric screening” is defined as: “…a blood pressure reading, a blood test to measure cholesterol  and glucose levels and the calculation of body mass index, based on height and  weight.”

In 2004, when one “…company first issued an incentive — $50 and a chance to win a free year of health insurance — participation in HRAs went from 20 percent to 74 percent…Two years later, Webcrafters (book publishing company) let employees who took HRAs pay $20 a month less for individual insurance and $40 a month less for family coverage. Participation rose to 96 percent.”

Although “HRAs have identified serious medical conditions in some employees, (but) health care costs continue to rise.” “It’s been an amazing way to raise people’s awareness and get them involved in their health care,” said Judy Peirick, vice president for human resources at Webcrafters in Madison, Wis. “But I can’t say I’ve beaten the cost curve.”

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/health_med_fit/health-sense/health-sense-state-employees-asked-to-do-health-risk-assessments/article_d3dde840-79db-11e2-b147-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz2ML91n6XD

Have you ever completed an HRA?

Did you receive an incentive for completing it?

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