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

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Abstract

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.

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