The Value of a Well-Being Improvement Strategy: Longitudinal Success Across Subjective and Objective Measures Observed in a Firm Adopting a Consumer-Driven Health Plan

Published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Author(s): Xiaobo Guo, MS; Carter Coberley, PhD; James E. Pope, MD; and Aaron Wells, PhD

Objective: The objective of this study is to evaluate effectiveness of a firm’s 5-year strategy toward improving well-being while lowering health care costs amidst a shift to a Consumer-Driven Health Plan.

Methods: Study population participated in a robust well-being improvement solution that included company sanctioned fitness activities, weight loss and tobacco cessation programs, online well-being improvement plans and resources, free membership at a national network of gyms, and health coaching – all of which were underscored by a purposeful and pervasive culture of well-being. Repeated measures statistical models were employed to test and quantify association between key demographic factors, employment type, year, individual wellbeing, and outcomes of health care costs, obesity, smoking, absence, and performance.

Results: Average individual well-being trended upward by 13.5% over 5 years, monthly allowed amount health care costs declined 5.2% on an average per person per year, and obesity and smoking rates declined by 4.8 and 9.7%, respectively, on average each year. The results show that individual well-being was significantly associated with each outcome and in the expected direction.

Conclusions: The firm’s strategy was successful in driving statistically significant, longitudinal well-being, biometric and productivity improvements, and health care cost reduction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Study objective was to determine whether an employer could achieve positive health and productivity outcomes and reduced healthcare costs by coupling the well-being improvement offerings with a shift to a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP).
  • Study outcomes include:
    • Average individual well-being increased by 9.8 points (or 13.5%) between 2009 and 2011
      and higher score was maintained through 2013
    • Healthcare costs declined 21.5%, at an average annual rate of 5.2%, despite the national
      healthcare inflation trend over 5 years
    • Compared with 2009, smoking and obesity prevalence rates in 2013 were 36% and 18%
      lower, respectively
    • Absence declined by 4% on average each year, (2010-2013)
  • Study findings suggest that a focus on well-being improvement is associated with healthcare cost reductions and improvements in productivity.
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