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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Offers Strategies to Improve Health While Saving Money in the New Year

Jan. 17, 2013

Participation in Corporate Wellness Programs Can Lead to Significant Costs Savings

Chicago, IL — For many consumers, the start of a new year presents an opportunity to update health goals and rethink financial priorities. Weight loss, smoking cessation and better money management often top the list of health and wellness goals. However, many may not recognize the inherent link that exists between better health and saving money. As consumers begin to set both health and financial goals for the new year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) offers strategies to help consumers lose weight, stop smoking or improve their overall health, all while saving money.

  • Lose Weight.

    Losing weight can translate into savings on health care costs. For example, BCBSIL found that members who worked out regularly saved money on medical costs. Research from Health Care Service Corporation reports that the more than 15,000 members enrolled in its fitness program collectively had significantly lower health claims costs averaging $750,000 to $950,000 lower per year.

    Thirty seven percent of Illinois adults are overweight and nearly 25% are obese, more than 62% in total. In Illinois, adult obesity related conditions alone cost the health care system a staggering $3.4 billion; over a billion of which is in Medicaid; $800 million in Medicare, and much of the rest picked up by private insurers.*

  • Stop Smoking.

    Smoking one pack of cigarettes per day can add up to $2228 each year. According to the American Lung Association, tobacco use accounts for more than $96 billion a year in medical costs and another $97 billion a year from lost productivity. In Illinois, 21.3% of the adult population (aged 18+ years) — over 2,072,000 individuals — are current cigarette smokers.

    Enrolling in employer sponsored tobacco cessation programs helps consumers quit while saving money. In fact, in Illinois members enrolled in our smoking cessation program reported a quit rate of 38%, with a demonstrated costs saving of $1.3 million dollars.

  • Overall Healthy Lifestyle.

    Engaging in a healthy lifestyle can not only better your health, in some instances, it can save you money. According to the CDC achieving a healthy BMI, the number used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, can save an obese person (those with a BMI over 24.9), approximately $1,429 a year in medical costs. According to the American Diabetes Association, preventing Type 2 diabetes can save up to $6,000 a year in medication, glucose test strips, syringes, and regular trips to the doctor. Additionally, some employers offer rewards for employees that take preventative measures. For example, in 2013 BCBSIL will offer $100 to employees who get their BMI screening.

"Many employers are offering rewards to employees who are active participants in programs designed to help them stop smoking, achieve a healthy BMI, or identify risk factors for preventable, but costly diseases such as hypertension or diabetes," said Opella Ernest, MD, chief medical officer, BCBSIL. "Employer sponsored wellness programs provide the emotional support and accountability needed by many in order to ditch bad habits such as smoking and unhealthy snacking and adopt healthier practices such regular workouts and getting an annual physical exam."

View 2013 News Releases

* http://www.preventobesityil.org/ilobesityfacts.html