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EMPLOYERS WASTING MONEY ON ANNUAL PHYSICALS, WYATT REPORTS

 EMPLOYERS WASTING MONEY ON ANNUAL PHYSICALS, WYATT REPORTS
 WASHINGTON, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- More and more employers are spending millions of dollars on annual physicals despite reports suggesting they are a waste of money, according to Wyatt. Wyatt COMPARISON, a bi-monthly report from Wyatt's COMPARE data base, rates annual physicals second behind smoking cessation as the most popular wellness and prevention programs.
 However, a 1989 government-appointed task force on preventive services reported that the annual physical is "not the most clinically effective approach to disease prevention." Despite recommendations that they are often unnecessary, nearly 50 percent of surveyed employers still include annual physicals as an option to employees.
 "Rather than doling out the same routine physical examination and laboratory tests to all patients," suggests Dr. William Mayer, a health care consultant in Wyatt's Washington office, "the frequency and type of examination should be tailored to match the patient's age, sex and other individual health risk factors."
 Employers implement wellness and prevention programs for different reasons. They are viewed as a way to reduce medical costs, as well as to reduce employee absenteeism and improve morale. More than 90 percent of surveyed employers offer at least one type of wellness or prevention program, according to Wyatt's COMPARE data base of benefit plan information from over 800 U.S. employers representing over 11.2 million employees.
 According to Mayer, since 1989, the two most cost-effective prevention programs are well-baby care (up 39 percent) and prenatal care (up 22 percent). Smoking cessation programs are increasing in number (up 17 percent in the past two years), and Mayer finds that most employers probably only break even on these costs. However, smoking cessation programs have become one of the most popular wellness programs because of the increased push for smoke-free work environments and stricter Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) air quality standards in the workplace.
 "In order for wellness and prevention programs to be worthwhile, employers must better target the design of wellness benefits and take greater care in monitoring their cost effectiveness," explains Mayer.
 A copy of the April issue of Wyatt COMPARISON is free to participants in Wyatt's COMPARE data base, and is available for purchase by others.
 The Wyatt Company is an international consulting firm specializing in the areas of human resources, financial management and systems with 3,600 employees in 70 cities.
 -0- 5/15/92
 /CONTACT: Jennifer Eaton of The Wyatt Company, 202-508-4842/ CO: The Wyatt Company ST: Minnesota; Washington, D.C. IN: SU:


AL -- MN009 -- 0792 05/15/92 13:38 EDT
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Date:May 15, 1992
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