Improving the Value of Benefits

Improving the Value of Benefits


Since the early 2000’s, employers have been exploring alternatives to traditional benefit designs and health improvement programs that include motivating workers to be more responsible for their health in an effort to change their behavior. To gauge the interest and use of a value-based benefit design approach, MBGH conducted multiple studies over a four year period between 2006 and 2010. This included a national landmark survey in 2006 focused on the employers' readiness to adopt a value-based benefit design approach, a series of focus groups in both 2008 and 2010 that determined the employee perspective on value-based benefits, the triggers and barriers to engaging in health and wellness programs and the use of incentives.


The 2006 study revealed that employers experienced lower overall costs when they adopted a comprehensive value based benefit design that included incentives and disincentives to encourage behavior change.

Key findings with the 2008 focus groups included that employees: (1) have the desire and confidence to play an active role in managing their health; (2) want to make their own choices regarding what programs to participate in, (3) are skeptical of employers efforts in offering certain programs and services and (4) can be motivated by monetary incentives as well as through peer persuasion.

In 2010, the focus groups included employee spouses, coaches and physicians. The full results are offered in the following whitepaper: Triggers and Barriers of Employee Engagement of Their Health Benefits and Wellness Programs.

Business Case for Employers

  • Employers continue to see escalating healthcare costs. In 2006, employers spent nearly $87.6 billion on workers’ compensation, but this represents only a portion of the total work-related injury and illness costs borne by employers, workers, and society overall, including cost-shifting to other insurance systems, as we as most costs of work-related illness14
  • In 2007, national health care expenditures in the United States totaled $2.2 trillion or 16% of its gross domestic product, a 14% increase from 2000.3 This represents an average of more than $7,400 per person
  • In 2007, private health insurance obtained through the workplace for individuals less than 65 years of age was the major source of insurance covering 157.9 million people or 61.6% of the population3
  • Since 2000, health insurance premiums for a typical family of four have increased by 114% proving costly for both employers and employees

Project Goals

  • Determine the level of interest employers have for implementing a value-based benefit design approach in their companies
  • To support employer efforts to reduce costs and obtain more value for their healthcare dollar
  • To help employers to develop effective communication efforts that support benefits understanding and utilization

Employer Opportunities

Contact Cheryl Larson

Employer Resources

Online Toolkit: Employer Toolkit on Health Benefits Literacy and Consumerism 

Article: Employer Readiness to Adopt Value based Benefit Design

2011 Whitepaper:  Employee Health Engagement: Identifying the Triggers and Barriers to Engaging Employees in their Health Benefits  


Additional Resources Available on Request