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The Impact of the Highmark Employee Wellness Programs on 4-Year Healthcare Costs

Naydeck, Barbara L. MPH; Pearson, Janine A. PhD; Ozminkowski, Ronald J. PhD; Day, Brian T. EdD; Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 2 - p 146-156
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181617855
Original Articles
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CME

Objective: To determine the return on investment (ROI) of Highmark Inc.’s employee wellness programs.

Methods: Growth curve analyses compared medical claims for participants of wellness programs versus risk-matched nonparticipants for years 2001 to 2005. The difference was used to define savings. ROI was determined by subtracting program costs from savings and alternative discount rates were applied in a sensitivity analysis.

Results: Multivariate models estimated health care expenses per person per year as $176 lower for participants. Inpatient expenses were lower by $182. Four-year savings of $1,335,524 compared with program expenses of $808,403 yielded an ROI of $1.65 for every dollar spent on the program.

Conclusions: Using sophisticated methodology, this study suggests that a comprehensive health promotion program can lower the rate of health care cost increases and produce a positive ROI.

From Highmark, Inc., (Ms Naydeck, Dr Pearson, Dr Day), 120 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA; Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, (Dr Goetzel), Emory University, Washington, DC; Health and Productivity Research, (Dr Goetzel), Thomson Healthcare, Washington, DC; and Health Economist (Dr Ozminkowski), Ann Arbor, MI.

CME Available for this Article at ACOEM.org

Brian Day is employed by Highmark, Inc., which provided funding for this research. He has no other financial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: Brian Day, EdD, Highmark, Inc., P7205 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3099. E-mail: brian.day@highmark.com.

©2008The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine