The results were counter-intuitive: A surprisingly large drop in hospitalizations for the six conditions targeted by the wellness program, but increased costs for medications and outpatient visits. When those were added to the cost of the wellness initiative itself, "it is unlikely that the program saved money," the study concluded.
BJC President Steven Lipstein said he doesn't dispute the conclusion, but he remains committed to the wellness program and would invite the researchers to take another look now.
Is the program saving money? "I do not know that," said Lipstein. "I can tell you that our health benefit expenses go up every year."
Lipstein said encouraging employees to make healthy lifestyle decisions and rewarding those who do reflects corporate values, not just the bottom line.
"It's not easy to change human health outcomes in the short term," he added. "When you make an investment in wellness and prevention you shouldn't expect an immediate return."
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