The U.S. is facing a severe health care cost crisis today—in large part, caused by a health crisis from an increasing burden of chronic illness. Lurking below the surface in society are the true drivers of health care cost increases: health risks.
Dallas, TX/Jacksonville, FL (Vocus) October 13, 2010
With employers and individuals continuing to struggle with rising health care costs, a new study shows there is one strategy that is proven to slow the pace of this ever increasing burden: preventive health. Published today in Population Health Management, “The Impact of The Prevention Plan on Employee Health Risk Reduction” reveals that prevention programs based on the clinical practice of preventive medicine are able to achieve measurable health risk reduction in just one year.
“The U.S. is facing a severe health care cost crisis today—in large part, caused by a health crisis from an increasing burden of chronic illness. Lurking below the surface in society are the true drivers of health care cost increases: health risks,” said Ronald Loeppke, M.D., M.P.H., vice-chairman of U.S. Preventive Medicine and lead author of the Population Health Management study*. “More and more Americans today are succumbing to preventable lifestyle risks that erode the quality and length of their life--and this trend will create a tsunami of increased utilization of medical services, flooding our healthcare system and leaving an overwhelming economic burden on our society.”
The trend of health care cost inflation today is unsustainable. Since 1999, average premiums for family health insurance coverage have increased 131 percent, according to a 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation survey. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 75% of health care costs stem from preventable chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes.
The study reviewed the health of participants in U.S. Preventive Medicine’s The Prevention PlanTM—a prevention program based on the clinical practice of preventive medicine—and found that after one year nearly half (42%) of the approximately 2,600 plan participants experienced a decrease in the number of high health risks* they faced, with 64% of high risk participants lowering their risk status and 87% of low risk participants maintaining their health status. Among the high risk health factors that underwent the greatest declines were: blood pressure (43%), fasting blood sugar (31%), stress (25%), alcohol consumption (24%) and cholesterol (23%).
“These results are compelling and demonstrate a significant reduction of employee health risks within one year of being on The Prevention Plan. This is scientific proof that wellness works when structured on the pillars of prevention,” added Loeppke.
Not only do health risks drive up health care utilization, they also are a drain on business profitability, with employees in poor health more likely to be absent from work and less productive on the job. As a result, employers are beginning to realize they need to invest in the health of their employees to drive their business success and continue to offer sustainable employee health care benefits programs.
“Let’s face it: Good health is good business,” said Christopher Fey, chairman and CEO, U.S. Preventive Medicine. “Employers realize this and are beginning to shift the health care benefits paradigm from a focus on the treatment of illness to the proactive preservation of health. While the concept of prevention is not new, this research proves that, when offered as a comprehensive program, prevention plans do offer employers the first silver bullet to shrink costs and boost productivity.”
By incorporating the clinical foundation of preventive medicine, The Prevention Plan offers employees a series of interventional steps to drive awareness of their personal health risks and a variety of interactive, Internet-based and health coaching resources to empower employees to improve their health. In addition, these programs have yielded strong participation and engagement rates when supported by a culture of health, frequent communications and significant incentives provided by the employer.
“Aon Corporation is extremely pleased with our partnership with U.S. Preventive Medicine through The Prevention Plan to promote healthy behaviors and increase our efforts around disease prevention and cancer screening” said Dr. Paul Berger, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Aon Consulting. “Our results indicate a substantial percentage of those employees with high risk factors migrating to medium risk and those with medium risk factors migrating to low risk after being on The Prevention Plan for one year. We anticipate that in the near future this will translate to lower claims expense and a healthier and more productive work force."
For additional detail about the research findings in “The Impact of The Prevention Plan on Employee Health Risk Reduction,” click here http://www.uspreventivemedicine.com/Wellness/Research.aspx.
About the Study
“The Impact of The Prevention Plan on Employee Health Risk Reduction” analyzed changes in 15 health risk measures among a cohort of 2,606 employees from multiple employer groups who completed a baseline health risk appraisal, blood tests and biometric screening in 2008 and reassessment of that population cohort in 2009. *Using a combination of a self-reported health risk assessment and biometric screening, the study separated program participants into three health risk categories, based on the number of health risks individuals face, such as high cholesterol, blood pressure or stress levels. Low risk employees are defined as having zero to two health risks, medium risk employees three to four and high risk employees more than five. The study was authored by Drs. Ron Loeppke, Dee Edington and Sami Bég
About The Prevention Plan™
The Prevention Plan is an innovative prevention benefit that provides members with the high tech/high touch support and encouragement they need to adopt healthy behaviors. The Plan is based on the clinical science of preventive medicine and spans the continuum of preventive intervention: primary (wellness and health promotion to keep healthy people healthy), secondary (screening for earlier detection/diagnosis) and tertiary (early evidence-based treatment to reduce complications and disability). Support services include customized health prevention plans, 24/7 nurse hotlines, one-on-one health coaching, contests, group events and employer incentives.
About U.S. Preventive Medicine®
U.S. Preventive Medicine® (http://www.USPreventiveMedicine.com ) is leading a global preventive health movement focused on saving lives and money by keeping people healthy and better managing chronic conditions before they progress. The company provides an integrated continuum of prevention programs – primary, secondary and tertiary – that are based on the clinical science of preventive medicine. The world’s first preventive health benefit, The Prevention Plan™, moves beyond traditional wellness to identify each individual’s top health risks and design a customized plan of action supported 24x7 by nurse coaches. The company is accredited in wellness and health promotion by NCQA and disease management.
Contact: Kathy Fleming,