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Article Title

Impact of a Biometric Screening and Premium Incentive-Based Employee Wellness Program on Cost of Care and Utilization

Publication Date

8-10-2017

Keywords

health care financing, insurance, premiums, financial analysis, evaluation research, health care costs/resource use, economic studies, health promotion, prevention, screening, incentives in health care

Abstract

Background: Since 2012, Geisinger Health System (GHS), in collaboration with Geisinger Health Plan, has redesigned its employee wellness program MyHealth Rewards by requiring biometric screenings and achievement of a set of predefined goals for blood pressure, body mass index, glucose and cholesterol levels to be eligible for premium discounts in the subsequent year. GHS employees can voluntarily choose to enroll in MyHealth Rewards in a given year, and to qualify for the premium discounts they are required to meet all the biometric goals prior to November of the same year.

Methods: This study evaluates the impact of MyHealth Rewards on the employee costs of care and utilizations. A difference-in-differences approach using a generalized linear model was used to estimate the observed and expected values in terms of per-member-per-year (PMPY) total medical allowed amounts and health care utilization. The intervention group consisted of GHS employees (n = 11,239) and the comparison group consisted of non-GHS employees (n = 24,061) who remained Geisinger Health Plan commercial members throughout the study period (2011–2015) and did not switch between the two groups. 2011 was defined as the preintervention period.

Results: For medical costs excluding prescription drugs, there were no cost savings PMPY in 2012 and only a minor cost savings of $230 (5.0%, P = 0.183) PMPY in 2013. In 2014 and 2015, however, there were significant cost savings of $412 (8.4%, P = 0.026) and $480 (8.8%, P = 0.024) PMPY, respectively. These savings were driven by reductions in outpatient costs, which increased from $112 (5.8%) to $232 (9.0%) in 2014 and 2015 (P = 0.1).

Conclusion: A similarly designed employee wellness program that provides premium discounts for meeting a predefined set of biometric goals may reduce long-term cost of care among the employee population.

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