One of Missouri's largest employers saw a sharp, rapid drop in hospital visits by workers and their families for costly and chronic conditions after insisting employees in its most popular, generous health plan enroll in wellness initiatives. Outpatient costs, meanwhile, increased almost as much as hospital costs fell.
The results, published in the journal Health Affairs, found an estimated 41% drop in hospital stays between January 2004 and December 2006 for stroke, heart disease (hypertensive and ischemic), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute pulmonary infections among employees and dependents with health benefits from BJC HealthCare.
BJC, based in St. Louis, has 12 hospitals in Illinois and Missouri and adopted a new wellness program in 2005.
BJC paid a greater share of the total premium cost under the most-generous of BJC's three health plans, or gold plan. (Employees, however, did also pay higher premiums in the gold plan.)