WELLNESS PROGRAMS: Only 10% Yield Quantifiable Benefits
Although many large employers have introduced wellness programs to augment their health insurance coverage, only about 10% of those have been able to measure their results in terms of cost- effectiveness, according to a new study. William M. Mercer Inc. surveyed 248 employers with more than 1,000 employees to gauge the penetration and success of wellness programs. The study found that nearly 46% "offer some kind of health management program to workers," with another 21% considering implementing such a program. The programs often include lifestyle modification (88%) -- such as antismoking programs -- disease prevention (63%) and disease management (48%). Stephanie Pronk, Mercer's principal in charge of health management consulting initiatives, said that despite the lack of quantitative results, many "benefit managers can defend these programs by citing indirect benefits." She said, "[I]t's not only about cost, it's about attracting and retaining employees, and it's about increasing productivity." She said that two-thirds of employers gauge the success of wellness programs by measuring employee participation or changes in behavior (Kazel, Business Insurance, 2/22 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.