Fast Takes: News & Trend Lines, March 2014
Workplace programs cut chronic disease costs, but savings from lifestyle change efforts elusive
According to a new Rand Corporation study, workplace wellness programs can lower costs for employees with chronic diseases, but components of the programs that encourage adoption of healthier lifestyles may not reduce health care costs or lead to lower net savings. Examining PepsiCo’s wellness program, researchers found that efforts to help employees manage chronic diseases resulted in health care cost savings of $3.78 for every $1 invested. However, components to encourage healthier living did not deliver returns that were higher than the costs. Findings suggest that better targeting could lead to better results from lifestyle management programs; the disease management participants who also took part in the lifestyle management component experienced significantly higher savings. The study, which assessed PepsiCo’s wellness program over more than seven years, is published in the January issue of Health Affairs.