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Employers shifting toward value-based benefits design, survey shows

As the U.S. economy struggles, value-based benefit designs and consumer engagement strategies are gaining in popularity, according to a nationwide survey of US employers released on May 1 at the annual conference of the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), a nonprofit coalition of more than 90 private and public employers that spend more than $2.5 billion on health care benefits annually.

In its 2008 "Readiness to Change" survey, employers were asked their views on the value of health care. "We've found that employers are shifting their view of health benefits from that of a necessary expense to a critical investment in the health management of their employees," said Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO.

According to employers, key benefit priorities for 2008 include: getting employees more engaged in maintaining their health; improving chronic disease management; reducing the cost of benefits; improving utilization of preventive services; incorporating incentive programs to increase utilization of wellness/health promotion programs; and education efforts to help employees manage their health care finances.

Highlights of the 2008 survey findings include:

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