Reducing risky behaviors can cut healthcare costs

A tailored plan focusing on preventative measures may prove successful in cutting healthcare costs, according to a new study in the journal Population Health Management.

Conducted by researchers from U.S. Preventive Medicine, the study examined more than 2,600 employees in an unnamed group health plan. They were evaluated for 15 high-risk behaviors, including heavy drinking, levels of blood sugar, stress and cholesterol levels, and the use of a seatbelt.

Of the group, 13.24 percent were considered high health risks (with five or more high-risk behaviors); 31 percent were considered moderate risk (three to four risky behaviors) and 55.72 percent were considered low risk (zero to two risky behaviors).

In particular, nearly 43 percent of those at risk due to high blood pressure cut their rates, while 31.1 percent were able to make improvements in their fasting blood sugar. Both diabetes and risk of stroke are considered two of the biggest cost drivers in healthcare delivery, noted U.S. Preventive Medicine.

The use of a structured plan was able to cut the number of high-risk participants by 43.8 percent, and the number of moderate risk participants by 11.7 percent.

Although 9.4 percent of participants saw their risk conditions worsen, that was far less than the predicted 23 percent increase without intervention.

For more:
- read the study
- read the Society for Human Resource Management article