A Priority Health wellness plan is proven to lower employer costs and improve employee health

(Grand Rapids, Mich. - May 16, 2016) In a new five-year study, Priority Health has proven that its hybrid health plan featuring wellness incentives has successfully lowered employer costs and improved employee health, a win-win development for small and large business owners alike.

More than 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in national health care costs are due to chronic disease, such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes reports the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. And according to the Michigan Department of Community Health, nearly 60 percent of Michigan’s population suffers from one or more chronic conditions; diseases that can largely be prevented by making comprehensive lifestyle changes.

The combined challenge of rising health care costs and the prevalence of chronic conditions take a toll on employee wellness, performance and attendance, and have a negative effect on employer overhead. It's why a Tower Watson study found 66 percent of employers nationwide are looking to build a healthy workplace culture.

In 2007, Priority Health launched HealthbyChoice®, a plan designed to reward participants for getting and staying healthy while reducing health care costs for employers. HealthbyChoice plans raise awareness of potential health risks and reward employees for making measurable progress toward being healthier. The incentive-based health plan is working.

In the five-year study, Priority Health identified the impact of HealthbyChoice plans in two key areas: chronic conditions and cost. The study compared nine employer groups with HealthbyChoice to nine groups without the plan representing nearly 9,000 members. Each member on a HealthbyChoice plan saved employers up to 12 percent in claims cost or, on average, $60 per month. This reduction in overall health care costs helped save employers roughly $1.2 million over four years.

The study showed a marked reduction in the development of chronic conditions and disease in the HealthbyChoice population, specifically around chronic lung disease (27 percent less), diabetes (26 percent less) and ischemic heart disease (26 percent less).

Employers are taking a greater interest in the well-being of their employees, and for good reason," said Marti Lolli, Priority Health, senior vice president of commercial products. "Healthier employees mean lower cost and less absenteeism. The HealthbyChoice plans are creating the return on investment employers are looking for in their workplace wellness programs."

Based on guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Priority Health uses five indicators to measure employee health.

  • Tobacco use
  • BMI
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood sugar

Oakland University of Rochester, Mich. is one of the employers experiencing the benefits of HealthbyChoice.

"At Oakland University, it is important to have employees engaged in their health and wellbeing," said Kevin Venet, Oakland University, Compensation, Benefits, and HRIS manager.  "One way of promoting engagement is by providing the HealthbyChoice wellness plan where employees are provided important information that helps them shape the direction of their quality of life."

Priority Health is further enhancing its HealthbyChoice plan by adding online support tools amongst the products features. These enhancements include:

  • Tobacco cessation tools to help members quit smoking by setting goals and tracking progress
  • Quarterly health tracking opportunities are offered for activity, nutrition, and stress management

About Priority Health:

Priority Health is an award-winning, Michigan-based non-profit health plan nationally recognized for improving the health and lives of the people it serves. It continues to lead the industry in engaging members in their health, delivering effective health and disease management programs and working with physicians to improve health care outcomes and performance. Priority Health is one of only 20 health plans nationwide offering wellness programs accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, an organization which also rated it among the best health plans in the nation. The State of Michigan named the Priority Health HMO the benchmark plan for all individual and group HMO plans to model.

Priority Health offers a broad portfolio of health benefit options for employer groups and individuals, including Medicare and Medicaid plans. Its network of health care providers features 95 percent of practicing physicians available in Michigan and more than 900,000 health care providers nationwide.