Health experts: More companies will give perks for good health

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Health experts at Coastal Carolina University say the trend for employers to give perks for workers living healthy lifestyles will only grow as companies look for ways to save.

Dr. John Yannessa, chair of the Health Promotion Department at CCU says the programs are a cheap way for employers to motivate the people who work for them.

"It costs less for an employer to offer a corporate wellness program than it does to pay for insurance claims for their employees," Yannessa said.

Some companies offer extra time off, gift cards or cash to pay back employees who show a commitment to improving their health.

The City of Myrtle Beach has had an incentive program for a few years called Health Strive, but it's recently added more benefits for healthy employees.

City spokesman Mark Kruea says workers who meet with a doctor and stick to a health plan are eligible to receive $300 toward their uncovered medical expenses.

The program does also offer disincentives as well, charging employees who smoke $40 a month to pay for the associated health care costs.

Jimmy Justice, of Murrells Inlet, works for a company who offers a similar program and he says he really feels the perks work.

"I think it makes you be a little more health conscious, to think about the decisions that you make and how it affects your health. Whenever your company's promoting something it's always in the back of your mind especially when you can make more money with it," Justice said.

Dr. Yannessa says paying for these programs is much cheaper in the short term than paying the long term costs associated with preventable health problems.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved.