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    Family Insurance Premiums Up For 2nd Year In Row

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    Cook was also concerned with the uncertainty surrounding the health law, such as the year delay in the requirement that large employers provide health coverage or pay a penalty.

    His firm does not require workers to pay a large sum before their insurance kicks in because "when you have a high deductible plan, it's going to discourage people from using it," Cook said.

    But the firm is enthusiastic about wellness programs, as are 35 percent of employers in the survey, who consider them an effective strategy for controlling costs. Such programs range widely, from providing small gifts to employees for filling out a health risk questionnaire, to offering large reductions in premiums for workers who get screened and meet certain goals for weight, blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar. The federal health law allows employers to increase those financial incentives from 20 percent of the cost of the health coverage to 30 percent.

    NCP offers workers financial incentives to participate in wellness programs, including getting flu shots and checking for such things as high blood pressure. Those who sign up for a stop-smoking class get credit for paid time off, Cook said. And the firm discusses health costs with workers.

    "We're very honest about the cost of our plan," said Cook, whose firm is self-insured. "We tell people if you control the cost of the health plan, if you're lively and well, it will cost us less."

    Ankita Rao contributed to this story.

    Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

    Tue, Aug 20 2013

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