Who really pays for the cost savings behind workplace wellness programs?

June 25, 2013

In March 2013, Jill R. Horwitz, Brenna D. Kelly, and John E. DiNardo published "Wellness Incentives In The Workplace: Cost Savings Through Cost Shifting To Unhealthy Workers," in which they examine how the Affordable Care Act may be affecting employer wellness plans and vice versa. The Affordable Care Act encourages such plans; employers use financial incentives to reward their employees for changing, or trying to change, their health-related behaviors—changes that might translate into lower healthcare spending for employers.

The paper examines the assumptions underlying wellness programs. Analyzing the results of randomized controlled trials, DiNardo and his co-authors find that employer "savings" may actually be the result of shifting costs to unhealthy workers.

Since the paper's publication in March, its findings have been featured and discussed in more than a dozen regional and national media outlets, including: