Wellness Programs Slow Healthcare Costs While Promoting Health

October 12, 2012

A recent study by the Center for State and Local Governments documents the growth of wellness plans in the public sector and notes the success the programs have achieved in impacting health insurance costs.

“The Business Case for Wellness Programs in Public Employer Health Plans,” written by Robert L. Clark and Melinda Sandler Morrill, North Carolina State University, key findings include:
  • The evidence indicates that wellness programs are successful in improving the health status of employees and in slowing health care costs. 
  • Financial incentives encourage employees and retirees to change behaviors. 
  • Few governments or agencies have conducted systematic assessments of plans. 
  • Retirees can benefit from wellness programs, but may require additional considerations. 
  • Wellness programs likely will yield higher dividends to public employers to private employers due to the longer career pattern of public employees.
The authors cited among the examples the Austin, Texas, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which created a wellness program for its employees in 2003. For every dollar the authority has spent on the wellness program, it has saved $2.43 in insurance costs. In addition, absenteeism rates dropped 37 percent in six years.

In Georgia, members of GMA’s Local Government Risk Management Services can take advantage of the Health Promotion Services to create their own wellness programs. The benefits of this service are to help members minimize adverse health issues which affect the well-being and productivity of employees. Through the condition of physical and mental health, with proper nutrition, exercise and good habits, many health issues can be prevented. HPS provides programs to help employees modify behaviors that decrease risks associated with many diseases.

The program also provides members with the opportunity to obtain grants to help in promoting employee wellness. So far this year, more than $100,000 has been awarded in grants to help cities and other members promote healthy habits and create healthier employees.

For more information on the Health Promotion Services, contact Sherea Robinson at 678-686-6281 or email srobinson@gmanet.com.
 
2012 Wellness Grants Awarded
 
Auburn - $4,000
Avondale Estates - $6,000
Chattahoochee Hills - $2,000
Climax - $1,000
Cordele Housing Authority - $1,000
Dahlonega - $5,000
Dallas - $7,000
Douglasville - 10,000
Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Center - $3,000
Kingsland - $8,000
Lavonia - $8,000
Marshallville - $1,000
Newnan - $7,000
Nicholls - $1,000
Northwest Georgia Regional Center - $3,000
River Valley Regional Center - $4,000
Rossville - $3,000
Sandersville - $8,000
Sky Valley - $3,000
Southern Georgia Regional Center - $5,000
Thomson - $9,000
Vienna Housing Authority - $1,000
Waleska - $1,000
Total - $101,000