We are passionate about the high cost drivers of healthcare. By promoting knowledge and understanding, employees become more conscientious, engaged consumers, which is significant when it comes to managing healthcare costs. Educated employees equal lower medical costs. It is only through regular communication that you can keep your employees engaged.
Wellness is a culture created within any company. Employers who proactively engage and challenge employees’ health and wellness will create a culture of wellness.
Why is wellness important? The simple answer is that healthy employees save healthcare dollars, have increased productivity, and decreased workers’ compensation claims.
Patient lifestyles such as obesity, smoking, drug abuse, poor nutrition and physical inactivity contribute to an increase in the use of, and therefore the cost of, healthcare services. (8) These preventable risk factors (9) can also contribute to chronic diseases, which account for 75 percent of the money spent on healthcare in the U.S. each year. (10)
Consider these statistics:
- Less than one-third of adults report getting regular exercise.
- One in five adults smoke.
- The percentage of obese adults now exceeds the percentage of healthy weight adults.
- One in six adults has high cholesterol.
One of the best ways to reduce healthcare costs is to enroll high-risk employees or their dependents who have serious medical conditions in care and utilization management programs. These programs are provided by health insurance companies at no additional cost.
The National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council reports the following statistics in its National Prevention Strategy:
- Medical costs are reduced by approximately $3.27 for every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs, according to a recent study. (327)
- Reducing average population sodium intake to 2.300 milligrams per day could save $18 billion in healthcare costs annually. (329)
- Dietary sodium is linked to increased prevalence of hypertension, a primary risk factor for cardiovascular and renal diseases. Cardiovascular disease alone accounts for nearly 20 percent of medical expenditures and 30 percent of Medicare expenditures. (328)
- Increasing preventive services (including tobacco cessation screening, alcohol abuse screening and aspirin use) to 90 percent of the recommended levels could save $3.7 billion annually in medical costs. (326)
- A 1 percent reduction in weight, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol risk factors would save $83 to $103 annually in medical costs per person. (325)
- A proven program that prevents diabetes may save costs within three years. (320) One of every five U.S. healthcare dollars is spent on caring for people with diagnosed diabetes. (321) People who undergo 2 ½ hours of physical activity a week and achieve a 5 to 7 percent weight loss may reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. This is regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. (323)
- Tobacco screening is estimated to result in a lifetime savings of $9,800 per person. (331)
In addition to improving the length and quality of people’s lives, prevention can reduce the significant economic burden of disease. Treatment, lost productivity, and healthcare costs are significant burdens to the economy, families, and businesses. Prevention policies and programs are generally cost-effective, reduce healthcare costs, and improve productivity. Many health insurance companies include wellness programs with their policies.
Wellness Fairs are designed to generate awareness among company employees on good health and ways to stay healthy. Each employee may define his or her wellness effort differently, creating a need to offer a variety of healthy solutions. The goal of a wellness fair is to engage employees, provide a number of healthy solutions, and start them on a healthy lifestyle.
(8) PriceWaterhouseCoopers, “The Factors Fueling Rising Health Care Costs 2008” December 2008
(9) Thorpe, et al, Health Affairs, June 2005
(10) Will Dunham, More Americans getting multiple chronic illnesses, Thomson Reuters, January 2009
327. Baicker K. Ctler D, Song Z. Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings, Health Aff. 2010;29 (2):304-311 329. Palar K, Sturm R, Potential Societal Savings from Reduced Sodium Consumption in the U.S. Adult Population Am J Health
Promot. 2009;24(1):49-57 328. Trogdon JG, Finkelstein EA, Nwaise IA, Tangka FK, Orenstein D. The economic burden of chronic cardiovascular disease for major insurers. Health Promot Pract. 2007 July;8(3):234-42
326. Maciosek MV, Coffield AB, Flottemesch TJ, Edwards NM, Solberg LI, Greater Use of Preventative Services in U.S. Health Care Could Save Lives At Little Or No Cost, Health Aff,2010;29(9):1656-60
325. Henke RM, Carls GS, Short ME,Pei X, Wang S, Moley S, Sullivan M, Goetzel RZ, The Releatonship between Health Risks and Health and Productivity Costs Among Employees at Pepsi Bottling Groups, Journal of Occupational & EnvironmentalMedicine 2010:52(5): 519-527.
320. Ackermann RT, Marrero DG, Hicks KA, Hoerger TJ, Sorensen S, Zhang P, Engelgau MM, RatnerRE, Herman WH.
321. American Diabetes Program. Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2007. Erratum in Diabetes Care. 2008 June;31(6):1271.
323. Ormond BA, Spillman BC, Waidmann TA, Caswell KJ, Tereschchenko B. Potential National and State Medical Care Savings from Primary Disease Prevention. Am J Public Health 2011;101(1): 157-164.
331. Solberg, LI, Maciosek, MV, Edwards, NM, Khanchandani, HS, Goodman, MJ , Repeated Tobacco-Use Screening and Intervention in Clinical Practice. Am J Prev Med. 2006;31(1):62–71.