About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Wellness ROI cited in Michigan program

An item in the Western Michigan Business Review reports some interesting, rarely cited stats on wellness ROI that demonstrate how slashing risks can slash health care spending.

Michigan Department of Community Health specialist Christi Downing, in explaining several Michigan wellness initiatives, cites the well-known data that comprehensive programs focused on lifestyle behavior change can yield a $3 to $6 return (after a 2 to 5 year commitment) on each dollar invested.

But she cites some interesting data published by The Health Management Research Center at the University of Michigan. A study of employees at office furniture maker Steelcase of Grand Rapids found "The average medical costs of . . . Steelcase employees that had two to four health risks such as smoking, little exercise and being overweight were 75 percent higher than those of low-risk employees."

"However, when those high-risk employees improved their health habits through the company's health promotion program and became low-risk, their average medical claims were cut in half, thus lowering their medical insurance costs by an average of $618 per year."

The same data suggested that around 20 percent employees fit into the high-risk category. To realize the savings, wellness programs have to reach those people.

That's worth keeping in mind as you evaluate the ROI of your programs. Are your wellness programs reaching the 20 percent of the workforce that is at highest risk--and whose medical care is the most expensive?

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