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Workplace wellness programs lead to health-care savings, study says Posted: March 1st, 2011

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Businesses looking to reduce health-care costs may want to consider implementing a workplace wellness program. According to a study conducted by Highmark, Inc. and published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, health-care costs rose at a slower rate when employees were offered wellness programs.

Highmark, a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate, evaluated the effectiveness of wellness programs by matching 10,000 health insurance program participants with a risk-matched comparison group. The four-year study determined that health-care costs for wellness participants rose 15 percent slower than those of the comparison group.

"This study is significant because it shows that implementing a work site wellness program…can help control overall health-care costs," said Donald R. Fischer, M.D., Highmark chief medical officer, in a statement.

The study determined that even such small interventions as web-based applications can lead to cost savings. Participants in wellness programs also showed an increased interest in preventive care. Average savings was $332 per participant.

According to Fischer, "having hard data from this study proves what we've been telling our group customers all along - keeping employees healthy is not just good for the business, it's also good for the bottom line."