The above title came from the March 11, 2002 issue of the American Medical News. This story reports on several studies and programs where corporate wellness programs are having a positive effect on reducing health care costs on their employees. “There’s a growing body of data indicating that corporate wellness programs lower medical costs for employees”, said Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, vice president of consulting and applied research for the Medstat Group, a health care research firm in Ann Arbor, Mich.
A survey done by Medstat, published in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Occupational Medicine, concluded that medical claims costs for Johnson & Johnson Inc. employees dropped an average of $225 per year after the company started its wellness program in 1995. Additionally, Goetzel reported that a literature review of corporate wellness studies published in the May/June 2001 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion concluded that medical costs dropped for employees in the wellness program for 28 out of 32 of the corporate wellness programs reviewed.
The report claims that about 90% of Johnson & Johnson employees participate in the corporate wellness program. Their program consists of free health risk assessments and physicals. Additionally employees can then join free weight management, smoking cessation or nutrition classes and can use on-site fitness centers. John McKeegan, a Johnson & Johnson spokesman stated that the savings in reduced medical claims total about $5 million a year. When you factor in administrative savings from combining various health services into one program, McKeegan estimates the savings come to about $8.5 million a year.
The Wellness Councils of America, a coalition representing 3,000 corporate wellness programs, estimated that presently 80% to 90% of large U.S. corporations offer some sort of wellness program.