Improving Well-Being Can Lower Health Care Costs
Texas Health Resources is advancing the science of well-being to keep you healthier. From job satisfaction to social relationships to lifestyle habits, every aspect of your life affects well-being. This is the second of a four-part series.
Truth: Improving your well-being could lower your health care costs.
The numbers paint an undeniable picture: Individual well-being is a strong predictor of health care costs and outcomes. While well-being is tied to aspects other than financials, it seems that it makes good dollars and cents to be well and stay well.
A study among businesses by Gallup showed that workers who are thriving in their positions have 41 percent lower health-related costs compared with those who are struggling, and 62 percent lower costs compared with workers who are suffering. In the U.S. today, just a little more than half — 58 percent — of employees would define themselves as thriving. Can you imagine the financial impact if more people could thrive in their jobs? These findings suggest that if employers made an intentional effort to raise well-being levels for all workers, they would realize significant savings in their medical costs. That not only saves employers money, but employees, as well.
Fewer illnesses mean less spent on co-pays, medications and travel to doctor visits, more time at work, and more productive work in general (who can be thinking of the next greatest idea when they are feeling sick?). It’s intuitive: spending less time and money on getting back to being well isn’t nearly as productive as being well in the first place. In short, investments in well-being pay dividends.
“It’s a whole-person approach to well-being that we are seeing here,” said Tricia Nguyen, M.D., executive vice president of population health and president of Texas Health Population Health, Education & Innovation Center. “When one area is doing well, others tend to follow.”
Good well-being can also make a positive different in one’s career. Gallup found that employees who are thriving in their lives overall are more than twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs than those who are struggling. They are physically healthy, have strong relationships, are active in their communities, and are in control of their finances. They also enjoy their work and are 13 percent more likely to report excellent performance and 32 percent more likely to stay with the company than are engaged employees who are struggling or suffering.
The poet Virgil said, “The greatest health is wealth” — and that seems to make perfect sense.
Read more about the numbers:
- Patricia L. Harrison, James E. Pope, Carter R. Coberley, and Elizabeth Y. Rula. Population Health Management. December 2012, 15(6): 325-330. doi:10.1089/pop.2011.0089.
- Sorenson, Susan (Gallup). “Lower Your Health Costs While Boosting Performance”. Gallup Business Journal. September 19, 2013, Businessjournal.gallup.com