Study Shows Value of Wellness Programs

A three-year study by Humana suggests engagement in wellness programs lowers health claims costs and improves work productivity.

A three-year study of Humana Inc.’s data-driven wellness and rewards program, HumanaVitality, shows employees engaged with the health incentive program had fewer unscheduled absences, lower overall health claims costs and fewer visits to the hospital and emergency room.

The HumanaVitality Impact Study, which tracked the productivity as well as the health care usage and claims of more than 8,000 Humana employees, found engaged members in HumanaVitality, on average, had six fewer hours of unscheduled absences compared to unengaged members, who averaged 23 hours per year.

As compared to the baseline, engaged HumanaVitality members’ health claims costs decreased 6% in Year 1 and 10% by Year 3. In contrast, unengaged members experienced a 17% increase in health claims costs by Year 3. Engaged members without chronic health conditions were more likely to use health care for preventive care, such as routine check-ups/physicals and screenings. Unengaged members had 56% more emergency room visits and 37% more hospital visits.

“One critical measure of a wellness program’s success is its ability to engage all members, both the unhealthy and the healthy,” says HumanaVitality President Joe Woods. “So, one of the big highlights in this study is the improved engagement in people with lifestyle-related chronic conditions.”

The analysis found the percentage of engaged members in a low-risk range for chronic conditions increased by 24.4% over the three-year study compared to only 14% for unengaged members. Among all types of medical claims, the biggest difference in health care spending between engaged and unengaged employees was seen in those with “lifestyle chronic conditions.”

HumanaVitality also provides health and well-being choices to members enrolled as part of Humana’s medical plan offerings for its commercial fully insured, self-insured and individual members. Engagement results for the first external population of HumanaVitality members to reach the actuarially significant three-year membership mark will be included in next year’s impact analysis.

For more information about HumanaVitality, visit