chronic disease workplace wellness

Workplace Offers Important Opportunities for Wellness: AHA

We have reported that one of the most prominent and important players in the workplace wellness space is the American Heart Association.

To learn more about the AHA efforts – the challenges of encouraging people to better focus on health in the workplace and the opportunities that can come from even small success – we previously posted a podcast with Chris Calitz, Director of the AHA’s Center for Workplace Health Research and Evaluation.

The AHA outlined additional insights about “Advancing Workplace Health Promotion” in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

In the journal, Donna K. Arnett, MSPH, PhD discussed “Setting Out the Case for Evidence-Based Workplace Health Programs.” She outlined important statistics around growing health costs and what that can mean for employers and employees.

Dr. Arnett wrote: “Treating people with NCDs (chronic noncommunicable diseases” accounted for approximately 84% of annual health-care expenditures of US$2.7 trillion in 2011 or 17.9% of gross domestic product. Although medical costs are driven by NCDs at all ages, two-thirds of health-care dollars are spent on treating NCDs among working adults aged <65 years. At the same time, health insurance premiums and workers’ contributions to premiums have outstripped workers’ earnings and inflation. Although overall inflation increased by 40% between 1999 and 2013, during the same period, health insurance premiums increased by 182% and workers’ contributions to premiums by 196%. During this time, however, workers’ earnings increased only 50%. These sobering trends demonstrate that employers and employees are struggling with rising health-care costs. Since the majority of working-age US adults receive employer-based health insurance, employers and employees would benefit from improved health and well-being in the workforce.”

The piece outlines the “Documented Benefits of a Healthy Workforce.” For the employee these include:

  • Reduced risk for premature death
  • Reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, back pain, and high cholesterol
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Increased worker income
  • Lower debt
  • Lower long-term unemployment

For the employer these include:

  • Reduced productivity loss
  • Reduced risk for short- term disability
  • Enhanced mood Enhanced work performance
  • Reduced health-care spending
  • Lower employee turnover rates

As AHA CEO Nancy Brown writes in the same issue: “The workplace is a vital setting for cardiovascular disease prevention and health promotion.”