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