Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate savings to Medicare associated with participation in one or more health promotion programs offered to 59,324 retirees from a large employer and their aged dependents.
Methods: Propensity score and multiple regression techniques were used to estimate savings adjusted for demographic and health status differences between elderly retirees and dependents who used one or more health promotion services and nonparticipants.
Results: Participants who completed a health risk assessment saved from $101 to $648 per person per year. Savings were generally higher as more programs were used, but differences were not always statistically significant.
Conclusion: Using the health risk assessment as a guide for health promotion programs can yield substantial savings for the elderly and the Medicare program. The federal government should test health promotion programs in randomized trials and pay for such programs if the results suggest cost savings and better health for Medicare beneficiaries.