Workplace wellness programs not as beneficial for cost as expected

By Amanda Stewart,

Workplace wellness programs have been steadily rising since the enactment of Obamacare, however, researchers say that these programs may not reduce health costs or lower net savings.

Forbes reports that the programs are lowering costs for employees that have chronic illness, but it may not be benefiting the company at all. Researchers at RAND Corp. studied the wellness program offered by PepsiCo.

For every dollar that PepsiCo invested in the wellness program, the company saved approximately four dollars in health care costs. However New Tonight reported that has failed to show a significant decrease in health care costs since it has been enacted at the company.

Workplace wellness programs, like the one used by PepsiCo, are a $6 billion a year industry. They aim to improve productivity and to decrease health costs for the company.

PepsiCo’s wellness program has been around for seven years and included health risk assessment, on site wellness programs as well as a complex care manager and a nurse advice phone line. Researchers wrote that “Workplace wellness programs have the potential to reduce health risk.”

However, researchers also point out that lifestyle management programs that have weight and nutrition management as well as fitness and stress management and programs to help you quit smoking, in combination with disease management are what are really going to help employers lower health costs.

About half of companies with approximately 50 employees have enacted a wellness program while 90 percent of companies with 50,000 or more employees have participated in a program similar to PepsiCo.

If it is done the right way, wellness and lifestyle management programs can lower the cost of health programs over time, but lifestyle management can not be ignored.

 
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