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Wellness programs grow to meet challenge

MANAGED CARE February 2012. © MediMedia USA
Managed Care Outlook

Wellness programs grow to meet challenge

MANAGED CARE February 2012. ©MediMedia USA

We all know what’s coming in terms of chronic disease, and have for some time (see our short article, “The Increasing Burden of Chronic Disease,” at http://bit.ly/yf6QVH).

Growing prevalence of chronic disease
Source: Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, 2010

And the forecast is not good for patients, although it is good for the health care industry. “The portion of the U.S. population with a chronic disease is forecast to increase from 47 percent in 2010 to 49.2 percent in 2030, putting a further strain on health care budgets,” says the survey “Pharmaceutical Key Trends 2011 Overview” by Datamonitor, a business information and analysis company.

Ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease will account for the largest proportion of deaths while “neuropsychiatric conditions, cardiovascular diseases, and malignant neoplasms are responsible for the greatest disease burden in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).”

Savitz, an employee benefit consulting company, found that wellness initiatives “continue to gain momentum among companies. In 2011, 66 percent of employers report offering some form of wellness program. To encourage participation in their programs, many employers are offering financial incentives to employees.” (Savitz surveyed 67 employers that ranged in from just under 100 to just over 10,000 workers.) The incentives are not going only to the employees. “Health care reform further encouraged employers to implement wellness programs, if they had not done so in the past, by offering grants to employers who met specified criteria spelled out in PPACA [the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act].”

Wellness programs offered, many with incentives (% of companies)

Source: “2011 Survey of Employer-Provided Health Benefits,” Savitz Employee Benefit Consultants, Actuaries & Administrators