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The Portion of Health Care Costs Associated With Lifestyle-Related Modifiable Health Risks Based on a Sample of 223,461 Employees in Seven Industries

The UM-HMRC Study

O’Donnell, Michael P. PhD; Schultz, Alyssa B. PhD; Yen, Louis PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 12 - p 1284–1290
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000600

Objective: This study estimates the percent of health care costs associated with employees’ modifiable health risks.

Methods: Cross-sectional multivariate analysis of 223,461 employees from seven industries who completed a health risk assessment during 2007 to 2012.

Results: Modifiable health risks were associated with 26.0% of health care costs ($761/person) among employees with no self-reported medical conditions and 25.4% among employees with a medical condition ($2598/person). The prevalence and relative costs of each of the 10 risks were different for those without and with medical conditions, but high body mass index was the most prevalent risk for both groups (41.0% and 63.9%) and also contributed the largest percentage of excess costs (7.2% and 7.3%).

Conclusions: This study, coupled with past work, gives an employer a sense of the magnitude that might be saved if modifiable health risks could be eliminated.

University of Michigan Health Management Research Center (Dr O’Donnell, Dr Schultz, Dr Yen), Ann Arbor.

Address correspondence to: Alyssa B. Schultz, PhD, University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, 1015 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1689 (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine