Increased Investment in a University Employee Wellness Program and its Impact on Participation and Health Care Costs


Hannah Rush

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

USU Student Showcase

Publication Date


Faculty Mentor

Edward Heath, Dale Wagner


Spiraling health care costs have compelled some universities to invest in employee wellness. A large public western university made a 1,983.3% increase in their investment in employee wellness at the start of fiscal year 2009. The purpose of this study was to compare 8 years of data on wellness participation and costs of health care claims before and after this large subsidy. Methods: Data were obtained for fiscal years 2005-2012 (4 years before and 4 years after the increased investment) for participation in the university wellness program, costs of health care claims for both medical and prescription, and the total number enrolled in the university health care plan. A Shapiro-Wilk test was used to assess normality. Wellness participation was compared before and after the investment with a two-sample t-test. Linear regression was used to compare health care costs (adjusted for an average 4.5% yearly increase) before and after the change in the wellness program. Results: There was a significant increase in employee and spouse wellness participation, t(6) = 5.36, p = .0017 (4 years before 2,050.3 +/- 2,188.7, 4 years after 9,397.5 +/- 1,648.5). There was not a significant change (F(1,6) = 3.27, p = .12) in the average cost of health care claims per person before ($2,277 +/- $167.3) and after ($2,484 +/- $156.8) the overhaul of the wellness program. Conclusions: The large investment in the wellness program resulted in increased participation in the employee wellness program without any change in adjusted health care claims cost.

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