workplace wellness health cost reduction

Report: Workplace Wellness Can Help Businesses Address Health Costs

News from Nashville on the important role workplace wellness can play in addressing chronic disease among employees and helping manage health concerns and costs.

The Research Center of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce commissioned FTI Consulting Inc.’s Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy (“Center”) to collaborate with the Chamber on the development of data and analyses for the Nashville Region Health Competitiveness Initiative.

As The Tennessean reports: “The impacts on productivity from workers with diabetes, hypertension and obesity cost Nashville-area businesses $500 million annually.”

The post continues: “The financial drag of absenteeism and ‘presenteeism’ (coming to work with reduced energy and output due to being unwell), coupled with costs of medical treatment, promise to be an impediment to the future economic vitality.”

Some of the report’s findings include:

  • “There is a notable prevalence of adverse health conditions and health behaviors in the Nashville region, particularly in the age group of 45-64. Prevalence rates for obesity, hypertension, COPD, depression and diabetes are higher than in many of Nashville’s peer cities, and often above national averages.”
  • “Costs also include productivity costs from time away from work (absenteeism) or inability to work, as well as lost productivity due to impact of illness while at work (presenteeism). Estimates for Nashville show high costs for diabetes (estimated annual cost $222.9 million); hypertension (estimated annual cost $126.4 million) and for obesity (estimated annual cost of $158.0 million).”
  • “Costs include direct medical costs from hospitalization, outpatient visits, pharmaceutical costs, along with lost time and productivity. For example, commercial claims data shows diabetics in the Nashville area experienced an 11 percent hospitalization rate, averaged 15 outpatient visits a year and had an average of 14 prescriptions. Residents with hypertension experienced a 10 percent hospitalization rate, averaged 14 outpatient visits a year and had an average of 12 prescriptions.”

Bill Purcell is former mayor of Nashville (1999 to 2007) and a member of FTI Consulting’s Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy Advisory Board. He wrote in The Tennessean: “Employers are an important lever in the effort to improve overall population health – perhaps one that has been the most undervalued in many conversations about improving the health status of our population.”

Purcell continued: “The fact is, most of us spend the largest part of our waking hours at work. If we want to truly move the needle on the overall health of our population, we need to meet people where they are. In many cases, this can happen at and through their workplaces.”

As The Tennessean notes elsewhere: “Health impacts the day-to-day productivity and costs money: Employees that don’t feel well, don’t perform well.”