Workplace wellness plans
More companies are using wellness programs to lower health care costs
As Seen on: Birmingham Business Journal – by Cindy M. Jones, Contributor
Date: Friday, March 25, 2011, 5:00am CDT
A wellness program isn’t only measured in pounds lost but also in dollars and health gained….
Last year St. Vincent’s Health System screened some 515 employees from a participating company. The summary of above normal results included: Cholesterol 58%, Glucose 15%, Blood Pressure 77%, Bone Density 26% and BMI 81%, as stated by Cindy McCain, Corporate Health Consultant, St. Vincent’s Wellness Services. According to a 2005 study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 69 million workers took sick leave adding to 407 million lost work days per year. Employees with one chronic condition lost an average of 4 days of productivity per year, whereas those with one or more lost 6-10 days of productivity per year. University of Michigan Health Management Research Center determined that wellness participants—53.8 percent of eligible employees—saw their health care costs rise by $291 a year, compared to $360 for non-participants.
Fundamental programs such as, Scale Back Alabama, can be extremely beneficial. For 2010, a total weight loss of 792 pounds was recorded for their wellness participants with 5 employees able to stop taking various blood pressure and type 2 diabetes medications. Over 180 employees participated in charity walks or runs during 2010 with 7 employees training for 4 months for the 2011 Mercedes Half Marathon in February, says Candice Lee, Wellness Coordinator for Brasfield and Gorrie.
Although many experts agree that it takes two to three years for any cost benefit to show up, The Wellness Councils of America, (WELCOA), maintains that the “return on investment” of such programs is $3 or more for every $1 spent. Even in the best-case scenarios, companies would likely see slower growth in health care costs rather than cost reductions.
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