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The Savings Gained From Participation in Health Promotion Programs for Medicare Beneficiaries

Ozminkowski, Ronald J. PhD; Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Wang, Feifei PhD; Gibson, Teresa B. PhD; Shechter, David PhD; Musich, Shirley PhD; Bender, Joel MD, PhD; Edington, Dee W. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 11 - p 1125-1132
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000240709.01860.8a
Original Articles

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.

From Health and Productivity Research, Thomson Medstat and the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Cornell University (Dr Ozminkowski, Dr Goetzel), Washington, DC; Health Management Research Center (Dr Wang, Dr Musich, Dr Edington), University of Michigan, Division of Kinesiology, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Thomson Medstat (Dr Gibson), Ann Arbor, Michigan; Thomson Medstat (Dr Shechter), Santa Barbara, California; and General Motors Corporation (Dr Bender), Pontiac, Michigan.

CME Available for this Article at

Funding for this project was provided by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare Research and Demonstrations Contract #500-00-0034.

The opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the opinions of their affiliated organizations or The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Ronald J. Ozminkowski has no commercial interest associated with this research.

Address correspondence to: Ronald J. Ozminkowski, PhD, Director, Health and Productivity Research, Thomson Medstat, Associate Director, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Cornell University, 777 East Eisenhower Parkway, 903R, Ann Arbor, MI 48108; E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine