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January 23, 2012

Wellness Programs = Saving Money (?!)

It seems that health and wellness have been the focus of my blogs this month.  The reason is twofold:  1) it is the “time of the year” when I try to refocus my personal wellness goals; 2) it seems to be the topic of conversation in many of the articles and email newsletters I receive.

An article published by BNA caught my attention with this title:  “Wellness Programs Are Saving Employers Money, Officials Say.”  Having been on the “other side” of HR, I believe I have heard most every argument against wellness programs, generally focusing on the cost aspect as it is difficult to determine the actual ROI of wellness programs.

The article goes on to say that during a Capitol Hill briefing on November 30, Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) stated that programs aimed at keeping workers healthy are saving employers more money than they cost.   She stated that companies that have adopted wellness programs have reduced absenteeism, medical claims, and workers’ compensation expenses.  When wellness programs are expanded to cover larger populations or target particular communities or workforces, the positive outcomes will only increase.

The piece that makes this article most intriguing is that this isn’t just based on her own personal opinion.  It is based on a report that was released at the briefing, HLC Wellness Compendium:  Successful Private Sector Wellness and Prevention Initiatives, which outlines employer programs that have been successful in keeping employees healthy and lowering companies’ overall health costs.    We are now benefiting from wellness programs that have been in place for 5 to 10 years or longer, so viable data can now be measured.

When 7 out of 10 deaths in the United States are attributable to chronic diseases and $.75 of every $1.00 is spent on health care to treat these diseases, it seems like there is no other option than to implement a wellness program.  What is your company doing to address wellness?  Please share…I’d like to hear your success stories!

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