Wellness Programs Can Pay Off for Employers

February 25, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – A Highmark study found that health care costs rose at a 15% slower rate among wellness participants than a comparison group when employers consistently offered a wellness program.

A news release said the four-year study of select Highmark employer group wellness programs showed that the savings per participant was $332, indicating that substantial savings may result for group customers once a worksite wellness program is established.

“This study is significant because it shows that implementing a worksite wellness program at a company can help control overall health care costs,” said Dr. Donald R. Fischer, in the news release. “Having hard data from this study proves what we’ve been telling our group customers all along – keeping employees healthy is not just good for the business, it’s also good for the bottom line.”

The study evaluated the impact of worksite wellness programs on health care costs and utilization over time by matching approximately 10,000 wellness program participants at 47 Highmark employer groups with a risk-matched comparison group. At a minimum, the employer groups offered Web-based wellness programs from Highmark to their employees consistently for three or more years, which also indicates that even small interventions, like online programs, can help have an impact on health care costs for those that participate.

The study also found that wellness program participants developed a greater tendency to pursue preventive services such as preventive physicals, mammograms and cancer screenings, than their comparison group counterparts, possibly as a result of self-care knowledge obtained from their worksite wellness programs, according to the announcement.

More information is at https://www.highmark.com/hmk2/about/newsroom/presskits/consumerism.shtml.