Company Health Wellness Programs Do Not Work

A recent court ruling on medical privacy related to business health wellness programs is exposing its ineffectiveness.

Here’s more from Los Angeles Times:

About half of all employers offer wellness programs in one form or another, ranging from nutritional advice, free health screenings and discounts on health club membership

The biggest problem with wellness programs is there’s no evidence that they work. The most frequently cited statistic in their favor came from Safeway, whose claim to have saved on per capita healthcare costs after implementing a wellness program prompted drafters of the Affordable Care Act to liberalize the incentive rules. But Safeway’s story was soon debunked.

Empirical evidence of the programs’ efficacy is sparse, and what does exist is of questionable validity.

A 2013 study by the Rand Corp., for instance, determined that participants in workplace weight-reduction programs lost an average of a single pound by the second year of participation, an effect that had all but evaporated by year four. A seven-year study of a large wellness program at PepsiCo, however, found that while the company saved $1.46 for every dollar it spent, the savings came entirely from disease management — lifestyle management lost more than fifty cents of every dollar spent.

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