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And that focus is expected to continue.

In its 2013 survey of employer health benefits, the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health policy group, found that 35 percent of employers believe health and wellness programs are an effective strategy for controlling health care costs. Only 20 percent says the same about consumer-driven health plans, and 17 percent about making workers cover a higher percentage of their medical bills.

As a result, Baumruk believes even more companies will offer wellness programs in coming years. And the size of some of these incentives will likely rise, “at least in the short term,” he says.

Other benefits also could be provided.

In its survey, Aon Hewitt found that workers younger than 30 would like to receive guidelines for healthy living, as well as a way to quickly compare health care costs. Today, only 10 percent of consumers say they have access to a cost-comparison tool, according to Aon.

©2014 Chicago Tribune
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