Health Promotion at Work

home-imageThe workplace is an important setting for health protection, health promotion and disease prevention programs. On average, Americans working full-time spend more than one-third of their day, five days per week at the workplace.

While employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace, they also have abundant opportunities to promote individual health and foster a healthy work environment for more than 139 million workers in the United States.

via CDC – Workplace Health – Business Case – Home.

Control Health Care Costs

bigstock_workers_4569205Workplace health programs can impact health care costs

An investment in employee health may lower health care costs and insurance claims. In fact, employees with more risk factors, including being overweight, smoking and having diabetes, cost more to insure and pay more for health care than people with fewer risk factors.

A workplace health program has the potential to both keep healthy employees in the “low-risk” category by promoting health maintenance, while also targeting those unhealthy employees in the higher-risk categories, therefore lowering overall health insurance costs. A systematic review of 56 published studies of worksite health programs showed that well-implemented workplace health programs can lead to 25% savings each on absenteeism, health care costs, and workers’ compensation and disability management claims costs.

Individual employees can also save money by improving their health. For example, a smoker who spends $5 per pack of cigarettes per day can save $1825 a year by giving up smoking and many companies provide lower insurance premiums for non-smokers creating additional savings.

Other insurance premiums such as life insurance are also lower when an individual has lower health risks. And by practicing a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended clinical preventive services, an individual employee may reduce the number of trips needed to go see the doctor because of an illness and the co-payments which come with those office visits, such as getting an influenza vaccine to avoid getting influenza.

via CDC – Workplace Health – Business Case – Benefits of Health Program – Control Costs.

The Cost of Chronic Disease and the Need for Prevention

1392134302Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes – are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year.  Treatment for people with chronic conditions account for more than 75 percent of the more than $2.5 trillion spent on annual U.S. medical care costs.  Obesity is a significant health care cost driver – in 2008, about $147 billion of medical bills were weight-related.  With disease risk often related to economic, social, and physical factors, too many people engage in behaviors – such as tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, and alcohol abuse – that lead to poor health and contribute to chronic disease.

The indirect costs of poor health—including absenteeism, disability, and reduced work output—may be several times higher than direct medical costs.  Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year, or $225.8 billion annually.

Implementing and expanding evidence-based workplace health promotion programs will offer our nation the opportunity to not only improve the health of Americans, but also control health care spending.  Evidence shows that workplace health programs have the potential to influence social norms; establish health policies; promote healthy behaviors; improve employees’ health knowledge and skills; help employees get necessary health screenings, immunizations, and follow-up care; and reduce their on-the-job exposure to substances and hazards that can cause diseases and injury. When done well, using evidence-based and best practices, comprehensive worksite health programs can yield on average a $3 return on every dollar spent, over a 2-5 year period.

via CDC – Comprehensive Workplace Health Programs – Workplace Health Promotion.

Workplace Health Programs Increase Productivity

Workplace health programs can increase productivity

In general, healthier employees are more productive.

  • Healthier employees are less likely to call in sick or use vacation time due to illness
  • Companies that support workplace health have a greater percentage of employees at work every day
  • Because employee health frequently carries over into better health behavior that impact both the employee and their family (such as nutritious meals cooked at home or increased physical activity with the family), employees may miss less work caring for ill family members as well
  • Similarly, workplace health programs can reduce presenteeism — the measurable extent to which health symptoms, conditions, and diseases adversely affect the work productivity of individuals who choose to remain at work

The cost savings of providing a workplace health program can be measured against absenteeism among employees, reduced overtime to cover absent employees, and costs to train replacement employees.

via CDC – Workplace Health – Business Case – Benefits of Health Program – Increase Productivity.