Objective: To devise a methodology to create a single health risk–cost score that can be applied to health risk assessment survey data and account for the medical costs associated with modifiable risks.
Methods: We linked person-level health risk assessment data with medical benefit eligibility and claims data for 341,650 workers for the period 2005 to 2010 and performed multivariate analyses to estimate costs associated with high risks. We used the estimated costs and risk prevalence rates to create a composite Workforce Wellness Index (WWI) score.
Results: Increasing obesity rates among employees was found to be the most important contributor to increased health care spending and the main reason the WWI score worsened over time.
Conclusions: Employers that address employees' health risk factors may be able to reduce their medical spending and achieve an improvement in their WWI scores.