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Weekly Article Roundup | 03.30.12

March 30, 2012 / Employee Engagement / Virgin Pulse

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.

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