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Study Reveals Participant Costs Are One-Third Those of Non-Participants
 PITTSBURGH, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent study was conducted by Health Promotion Services (HPS) on the impact of its Lifestyle Advantage(R) program on the health care costs of two large nationwide companies and revealed substantially lower health care costs for employees who opted to participate in the program.
 Through Lifestyle Advantage, companies can provide incentives to employees for reducing health risks. According to the study, annual costs in 1991 for employees enrolled in Lifestyle Advantage were about one-third of those incurred by non-participating employees.
 The year-long study showed that annual health payments per participating employee averaged $576 vs. average claims payments for non-participating employees of $1,747. The 56 percent of employees enrolled in the wellness program accounted for 30 percent ($5.38 million) of total health care payments while the 44 percent of employees not enrolled accounted for 70 percent ($12.84 million) of those payments.
 "This research sheds some light on the continuing debate as to whether wellness programs save companies money," said Mary Anne Papale, HPS director. "It clearly shows that there is a correlation between employee lifestyles and a company's employee medical costs. Offering incentives encourages employees to participate."
 Lifestyle Advantage is a wellness program in which health appraisals are compiled through health screenings of employees. These voluntary screenings gauge employee health against established criteria for weight, cholesterol level, blood pressure and tobacco use.
 The health appraisals provide data that categorizes employees as high, moderate or low health risks. The screening results enable employees to make modifications to their lifestyles to eliminate potential health risks. The risk ranges utilized in the program are consistent with generally accepted medical recommendations.
 The results of the health appraisals also help management weigh the use of incentives to encourage employees to pursue healthier lifestyles and reduce corporate health costs.
 The study analyzed health claims payment data for two companies with employees nationwide, one in banking and the other in health insurance. Of the total number of employees at both companies, (16,680), participants in the voluntary program comprised 56 percent (9,326).
 Additional findings of the Lifestyle Advantage Impact Study included:
 -- Age was not a determining factor in claims costs. The average age of participants was 38 years. The average age of non-participants was 37.
 -- Non-participants incurred 14,429 medical services per thousand employees while participants incurred only 5,652 medical services per thousand.
 -- Non-participants incurred 881 inpatient hospital days per thousand employees while participants incurred only 200 inpatient hospital days per thousand.
 -- Among participants, those with high-risk cholesterol levels have 33 percent higher health costs; those with high-risk systolic blood pressure have 78 percent higher health costs; those with high-risk diastolic blood pressure have 16 percent higher health costs; and those in high-risk weight ranges have 6 percent higher health costs.
 -- Participants in the high-risk range accounted for average annual claims payments at a higher rate ($661) than participants found to be in the low-risk range ($509).
 -- 306 (10 percent) of the high-risk participants made improvements in their health, thereby reducing their own health risks and their company's health costs.
 -- Even when factoring in the administrative cost of the program, non-participants cost 2.8 times more in claims than participants.
 In addition to providing management with useful data for formulating employee incentives for participation in the wellness program, Lifestyle Advantage encourages personal health change through a toll-free telephone consultation service. Employees can call the service and discuss lifestyle modifications with health professionals.
 HPS is a division of Veritus Services Inc., a subsidiary of Veritus Inc. Based in Pittsburgh, HPS currently serves more than 180,000 employees at more than 400 companies and is ranked competitively with firms that offer health promotion on a national scale.
 -0- 3/18/93
 /CONTACT: Diane Wuycheck of Health Promotion Services, 412-255-7697/

CO: Health Promotion Services; Veritus Services, Inc.; Veritus Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: INS HEA SU:

DM-MS -- PG012 -- 7624 03/18/93 16:19 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 18, 1993

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