JOEM Study Shows Health Promotion Cuts Costs by 18 Percent

The authors combined data from two major studies to estimate savings from reductions in seven risk factors or medical conditions typically addressed by workplace wellness programs.

A study published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found workplace health promotion programs can reduce average worker health costs by 18 percent, and even more for older workers, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) announced Jan. 8.

Jonathan P. Dugas, Ph.D., and colleagues of The Vitality Group, Chicago, combined data from two major studies to estimate savings from reductions in seven risk factors or medical conditions typically addressed by workplace wellness programs: physical inactivity, low fruit and vegetable intake, smoking, overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and alcohol abuse.

"The results suggested that — if all heightened risk factors could be reduced to their "theoretical minimums" — total medical care expenses per person for all working age adults would be reduced by about $650, or approximately 18 percent. The possible savings increased with age: up to 28 percent for older working adults and retirees," according to the ACOEM news release.

Dugas and his co-authors write, "The potential savings from workplace wellness programs are still quite large and supportive of widespread interest by employers. Medical care savings from workplace wellness programs will increase with time, given that more eligible wellness program members participate, effective control of heightened risk factors improves, and greater risk reversal can be achieved."

To contact the authors, email jdugas@thevitalitygroup.com.

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