The Debate Over Wellness ROI Continues

Mercer survey data shows that employers consistently rate their employee health management efforts among their top long-term cost management strategies. However, relatively few have attempted to formally measure the ROI of their programs. Even among the largest employers – those with 20,000 or more employees – only about half have conducted a formal study. Of those, about three-quarters say that their programs have results in medical plan savings. The difficulty of measuring health management ROI has led to spirited debate about whether these programs actually do save money, and, more recently, if their value should be measured not just by medical plan savings, but also by impact on productivity, attraction and retention, and employee engagement. This post on the Health Affairs blog does a terrific job of presenting both sides of the argument, and explaining why it’s been a hard question to answer. Spoiler alert: the authors are “bullish about the capacity of purchasers to incorporate the lessons that have been learned so far” about how to achieve “not only improved wellness, health, and productivity but also, ultimately, a culture of health in their places of work.” In a follow-up post, they present a case study that offers “a sharp evidentiary counterpoint to the conclusion that there are no conditions under which employment-based wellness approaches are effective.”

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Beth Umland
by Beth Umland

Director of Research, Health, Mercer

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