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Go365 wellness program reduces healthcare costs, Humana says

Members are given financial and other rewards for participating.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Go365, which gives members rewards for achieving wellness goals, is working to lower healthcare costs and usage, Humana said.

An analysis of data from more than 10,000 Humana employees enrolled in the program demonstrated a link between long-term engagement and employees' health, productivity and costs, according to a five-year study by the insurer.

Highly engaged members had 35% fewer emergency room visits and 30% fewer hospital admissions than low-engaged members.

In year five, highly engaged members paid a per member per month average of $116 (or 22%) less in healthcare than low-engaged members.

Go365 members earn rewards including e-gift cards, fitness devices and apparel, product discounts and charitable donations for completing healthy activities such as health assessments, preventive screenings and fitness activities.

But those who refuse to participate incur fees, according to Associations Now and The New Republic, which reported fees of $25 a month.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Managing healthcare costs is a high priority for employers.

Those actively engaged in Go365 had lower healthcare costs and usage over time and had more "healthy days," which reflects on productivity at work.

Humana said the findings show promising results, especially in light of an aging workforce. Biometric data found notable improvements in lowering risk for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and other conditions over five years. Overall, there was an increase in members who ate healthier food, exercised more, and had reduced stress and tobacco use.

In January, Humana announced new resources available through Go365 including a Fitbit Coach, which gives users workout videos and audio coaching services designed to meet their fitness level.

Many organizations offer their employees at least one kind of wellness benefit and have dedicated wellness budgets. The incentives are improved health, lower healthcare costs and greater productivity.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a pilot wellness program in 10 states for Affordable Care Act members.

THE LARGER TREND

Recent studies have shown that offering a wellness program may not produce all of the desired results.

A recent JAMA study of over 30,000 employees at a U.S. warehouse found that workplace wellness programs had no significant impact on absenteeism, healthcare spending or job performance, but did show greater rates of some positive health behaviors, such as engaging in regular exercise.

THE FINDINGS

Humana members who exercised for at least 150 minutes each week rose by 25%;

Members who ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily rose by nearly 12%;

Members experiencing low stress increased by 5%;

Members were 2.3% more likely to be non-smokers;

7% more men and nearly 3% more women had healthy ranges of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) "good" cholesterol;

Members were likelier to have somewhat healthier ranges of blood glucose, blood pressure and triglycerides;

Highly engaged members reported 55% fewer "unhealthy days" than low-engaged members. Unhealthy days reflect productivity, absenteeism and days when employees are physically present at work but not working at full performance.

ON THE RECORD

"Managing healthcare costs is a priority for employers who strive to offer competitive benefits while fostering a healthier, more productive workforce," said Jeff Reid, senior vice president, Wellness Solutions for Humana. "Based on the strength of the findings of the Go365 study in showing that long-term employee participation in our wellness program results in a healthier, more productive work force and reduced healthcare costs, Go365 is a proven partner in realizing these positive outcomes."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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