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Employers are spending more on wellness programs, Fidelity/NBGH survey finds

Corporate employers plan to spend an average of $594 per employee on wellness-based incentives within their health care programs this year, a 15-percent increase from the 2013 average, according to an employer survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health.

Five years ago, the average that employers spent on such things as gym discounts and on-site flu shots was $260.

Fidelity, a Boston-based financial services company, has a consulting unit that advises mid- to large-size employers on assessing the effectiveness of their benefits programs.

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The National Business Group on Health, or NBGH, describes itself as a nonprofit organization “devoted exclusively to representing large employers’ perspective on national health policy issues and providing practical solutions to its members’ most important health care problems.”

Fidelity and NBGH have been conducting surveys on this topic since 2009.

For the purposes of the survey, wellness programs include so-called “lifestyle management,” a phrase that takes in such activities as offering weight-loss advice and discounts on gym memberships.

The latest survey found that 95 percent of companies plan to offer some kind of health improvement program for their employees, and the percentage of companies offering incentives to participate in these initiatives has increased from 57 percent in 2009 to 74 percent in 2014, Fidelity and NBGH said in their press release.

What’s more, an increasing number of companies are expanding wellness-based incentives to include spouses and domestic partners, the release noted.

The survey was conducted online in November and December. Conclusions were based on responses from a national sample of 151 companies from a wide range of industries.

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