Optima Health is “Managing the Wellness Gap” by Establishing a Five-Year Trend of Cutting Costs and Improving Employee Health
After five years of helping Sentara Healthcare employees get healthier, Optima Health is still saving money for our parent company — $4 million to be exact. For every dollar invested in the “Mission: Health” program, Sentara has saved $2.70. Healthcare costs were expected to reach $23 million in 2011; instead they were $21 million.
“Regardless of the impending changes in healthcare, the reality is that we will need to do more to address the rising costs we face over the next several years,” Optima Health’s President and CEO Michael Dudley told attendees today at The World Congress Annual Executive Forum on the Business of Employee Wellness in Chicago, IL.
“And we will need to do more to encourage individuals to engage in their health. The fact is that individual behavioral changes have the greatest impact when it comes to improving health.”
Optima Health analyzed 5,000 healthy and chronically ill members involved in the program all five years. Eighty-seven percent improved or maintained blood pressure, body-mass index, cholesterol, tobacco use and level of exercise, which bent the rate of rise of healthcare spending. Optima Health saw a 10.5-percent decrease over the five-year time frame.
The employee wellness program, launched in 2008, offers annual $600-plus premium reductions, and, in some cases, additional $460-per-year paid incentives. It also includes personal health assessments, one-on-one wellness coaching with accredited professionals and carefully crafted communications. Employees with no risk factors or those with risk factors who agree to a quarterly telephone conversation with a health coach at least quarterly are eligible for the reduced premiums.
Employees identified with certain chronic diseases – diabetes, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure – are eligible for an additional $460 in incentives by participating in an evidence-based condition management program.
Initially 92 percent of benefits-eligible employees took the voluntary personal health assessment in 2008. At the end of the first year, 79 percent of benefits-eligible employees were participating in Mission: Health; claims increased by 13 percent as previously undiagnosed conditions were treated, leading to a 5.7-percent increase in costs. The following year brought a stunning turnaround with $3.4 million in savings over 2008, with the most dramatic results realized in chronic-condition management – an average decrease in healthcare costs of 37 percent per employee.
In 2010 Optima Health provided the data to Aon Hewitt for independent review, where the actuaries and clinicians concluded that the results could be regarded as an unbiased assessment of the outcomes.
Since then, Mission: Health has been expanded to include spouses and members who are pregnant. Additionally, eight other Optima Health clients with companies ranging in size from 250 to 20,000 employees now participate in some variation of the Mission: Health program, covering 90,000 total employees.
“We are very excited about the improvements that Mission: Health has made in the health and lives of Sentara employees,” Dudley said.
For more information about Optima Health’s wellness programs, see The Wellness Gap.