Health care costs and the economy are the top factors affecting employers’ business decisions, according to a Principal Financial Group survey reported in BenefitsPro recently.

The survey found that more than half of employers (57 percent) say health care costs are top of mind in their business decisions, while slightly less (54 percent) cite economic growth.  Other top issues include uncertainty of taxes (45 percent), gas prices (43 percent), unemployment (37 percent) and inflation (36 percent).

Employers answering the survey (conducted prior to the Presidential election) said the main trouble with health reform is the looming uncertainty around it.   Since then, President Obama was re-elected which ensures the survival of PPACA, but it doesn’t mean the law stays without continuing challenges.

In addition to worrying about managing the cost and administrative responsibilities of health care, employers said understanding the impact of health care reform on their business is their top concern for well-being in the upcoming year.

In an attempt to take control of the future of health care while curbing costs, more employers are turning to wellness programs.  Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed (64 percent) offer some form of wellness benefit to their employees.  Among those that do, almost one-third (32 percent) have experienced lower health insurance costs.  They also say the programs have made their employees more productive at work, increased employee retention and caused them to be away less from work.

Fitness is a key element of wellness programs.  Companies can provide fitness facilities in-house, as well as encourage home exercise or working out at a gym.  Employee purchase programs can help jumpstart any home exercise program. By making manageable payments over just 12 months through automatic payroll deductions, employees can purchase fitness equipment, many with extended warranties and virtual personal training accessories included.

With January just a month away, New Year’s resolutions will be made soon.  Employers who offer employee purchase programs that include fitness equipment provide a valuable benefit for employee who have fitness resolutions for the New Year.

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