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Are You “Leaving Millions on the Table”?

Your employer will offer you nearly $700 this year, and you won’t take it.

As we near the midpoint in Financial Literacy Month, the Fidelity investment and benefits firm released a study aimed at employers. However, its conclusions should intrigue employees.

“Employers will spend an average of $693 per employee on wellness-based incentives in 2015,” the study found. That’s up from $594 last year and $430 five years ago.

That’s good news. It means your employer is offering you more perks to stay healthy. Why do they care if you eat better and exercise more? Because healthy employees take less sick days and use less health insurance. So everyone wins.

What you can get for free

Those perks include “cash, gift cards, reduced health care premiums or a contribution to a health care account” if you do simple things like quit smoking and exercise. Employers are also offering free “biometric screenings,” “health risk assessments,” and “physical activity programs.”

Sadly, most employees don’t care. Concludes Fidelity…

Fewer than half (47 percent) of employees earned their full incentive amount in 2014, while 26 percent earned a partial amount. Together, this translates into millions of dollars of unclaimed incentives.

“The next challenge for companies is to continue to find ways to increase participation in these programs and encourage employees to earn the full incentive amount available to them, which will contribute to their financial well-being as well as their physical health,” says Fidelity’s Robert Kennedy.

What you need to do right now

This being Financial Literacy Month, I urge you to contact your Human Resources Department and ask about “wellness benefits.” If someone offered you a crisp $100 bill to work out today, wouldn’t you do it? Well, your employer is offering you services (and sometimes cash) to live the healthier lifestyle you always wanted. Passing that up is bad for your body and your wallet.

Howard Dvorkin is a CPA and chairman of Debt.com, an educational resource for those who want to conquer all forms of debt in their lives.

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