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Newly Published Study Demonstrates Return on Investment for Employee Wellness Program
Date:2/11/2008

Highmark Inc.'s rigorous study methodology sheds new light on ways to

address employer health care costs

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Study findings published today in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) show that employers can save $1.65 in health care expenses for every dollar spent on a comprehensive employee wellness program. Pittsburgh-based health insurer Highmark Inc. conducted a study of its own corporate wellness program, which saved $1.3 million during a four-year period.

Researchers used an analytical approach that examined the health care costs reflected in the medical claims of employees who participated in wellness programs, as well as nonparticipants with comparable health risks.

"This study used a rigorous methodology to examine the long-term impact of Highmark's health promotion program on health care expenditures," said Ron Goetzel, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies for the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, a vice president at Thomson Healthcare and a contributing researcher to the study. "Participants and nonparticipants in the program were carefully matched to one another to minimize the effect of selection bias, a common threat to the validity of worksite health promotion studies involving workers in real-world settings."

Reduced inpatient costs yielded the highest return on investment, partially due to increased use of screenings and medications among employees.

"There is a common misconception that these studies represent people who are already healthy and motivated. It's simply not the case," said Brian Day, Ed.D., director of advanced analytics at Highmark. "One of the most significant findings showed that those involved in wellness activities were not healthier at the start of the program."

As employers begin to recognize the crucial role they can play in improving the health and well-
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SOURCE Highmark Inc.
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