A hospital system’s wellness program linked to health plan enrollment cut hospitalizations but not overall costs

Published: March 1, 2013
Category: Bibliography > Papers
Authors: Chernew ME, Gowrisankaran G, Kemper L, Kymes S, Norberg K, Peck W, Stwalley D
Countries: United States
Language: null
Types: Finance/Budgeting
Settings: Academic, Health Plan

Health Aff 32:477-485.

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Many policy makers believe that health status would be improved and health care spending reduced if people managed their health better. This study examined the effectiveness of a program put in place by BJC HealthCare, a hospital system based in St. Louis, Missouri, that tied employees’ eligibility to participate in the system’s most generous health plan with participation in a wellness program. The intervention, which began in 2005, was associated with a 41 percent decrease, relative to a comparison group, in hospitalizations for conditions targeted by the wellness program but with no significant decrease in other hospitalizations. We found reductions in inpatient costs but similar increases in non-inpatient costs. Therefore, we conclude that although the program did cut some hospitalizations, it did not save money for the employer in the short term. This finding underscores that wellness program incentives under the Affordable Care Act are unlikely to greatly reduce health care spending over the short run.

Comment in: Wellness programs: the author replies; Wellness programs and cost reductions.

PMID: 23459726

Targeted Program,Payment,Cost Burden Evaluation,United States,Adult,Chronic Disease/epidemiology,Cost Savings/economics,Cost Savings/statistics & numerical data,Diabetes Mellitus/economics,Diabetes Mellitus/prevention & control,Eligibility Determination,Health Expenditures/statistics & numerical data,Health Status Indicators,Heart Diseases/economics,Heart Diseases/prevention & control,Gender,Middle Aged,Missouri,Myocardial Ischemia/economics,Myocardial Ischemia/prevention & control,Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act/economics,Program Evaluation

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