The relationship between 11 health risks and medical and productivity costs for a large employer

Niranjana M. Kowlessar, Ron Z. Goetzel, Ginger Smith Carls, Maryam J. Tabrizi, Arlene Guindon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between modifiable health risks, and health and productivity related expenditures and predict cost savings from improvements in the health risk profile of a large US employer. METHODS: Information was collected on 11 modifiable health risks for active employees who completed a health assessment and enrolled in a noncapitated health plan. These risks were related to employer medical care costs and employee productivity. Multivariate analyses were performed to estimate costs associated with high risk, as well as potential savings from reducing risk prevalence among employees. RESULTS: Health risks with the greatest impact on total medical care costs included obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high triglycerides, and inadequate exercise. CONCLUSIONS: Modifiable health risks are associated with higher employer costs. Targeted programs that address these risks are expected to yield substantial savings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-477
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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