Workplace health promotion has potential to reduce annual medical costs 18%, study shows

Workplace health promotion programs have the potential to reduce average worker health costs by 18 percent, and even more for older workers, according to a study published in the January edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Jonathan Dugas, Ph.D., and colleagues with The Vitality Group, Chicago, combined data from two major studies to estimate medical cost savings from reductions in key health risk factors including physical inactivity, low fruit and vegetable intake, smoking, overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and alcohol abuse. The results suggest that if all heightened risk factors could be reduced to “theoretical minimums,” total medical care expenses per person for all working age adults would be reduced by about $650, or approximately 18 percent, per year. The possible savings increased with age: up to 28 percent for older working adults and retirees. Refer to “Medical care savings from workplace wellness programs: what is a realistic savings potential?” J Occup Environ Med. 2013;55(1):4-9.