Health care costs are a major concern for policymakers, patients, and employers. Many employers across the United States are implementing or considering employee wellness programs in an effort to control costs while improving employee productivity and health. The Affordable Care Act also established a variety of incentives for employee wellness. Despite the popularity of wellness programs, little rigorous evidence exists on their effects on health, productivity, and health care costs or utilization. Such evidence is crucial for employers and policymakers alike.
We will evaluate the effect of a year-long employee wellness intervention at a large multi-state firm in the Eastern United States, using a randomized controlled trial design. The wellness intervention will consist of several components, including team-based wellness challenges, nutrition counseling, stress reduction, and individual-focused physical activity. The intervention has been designed with and will be fielded through an experienced and large-scale vendor.
Randomizing this intervention across a set of treatment and control sites, we will evaluate its impact on 5 categories of outcomes gathered from both primary and administrative data sources: (1) self-reported health and well-being, (2) biometrics (such as body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar), (3) worker absenteeism and turnover, (4) health care spending and utilization, and (5) return on investment. Better information about the effectiveness of such programs should inform both employer investment and public policy.