Spotlight on article published in

Health Affairs

IBI Spotlights call attention to important health and productivity findings from peer-reviewed work by external researchers. Unless otherwise stated, the authors are not affiliated with IBI, nor was the research executed on IBI’s behalf. IBI members are encouraged to obtain the original articles from the copyright holder.

What is the Issue?

Studies of the health spending and productivity savings from workplace wellness programs are not typically conducted rigorously. As a result, claims for saving from wellness programs are not well established.

What are the findings/solutions?

  • High quality studies (with well-defined new interventions and either randomized controlled or matched treatment and control groups) suggest that targeted wellness programs saved about 1.8 days per employee per year.
  • ROI for reduced absence was about $2.73.
  • Return on investment for health care costs was $3.27.

Journal Citation

Baicker, K., Cutler, D., & Song, Z. (2010). Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings. Health Affairs, 29(2), 304-311.


To understand the health spending and productivity savings possible from workplace wellness programs.


A meta-analysis of 36 high-quality studies of workplace wellness programs. Intervention characteristics included HRAs, self-help education, counseling, group activities, and incentives for participations. Conditions typically included obesity, smoking, as well as multiple risk factors. 22 studies focused on health care spending and 22 focused on absenteeism; 8 studies focused on both. Studies were typically of larger employers.


The average study reported $3.27 in health care spending saved for every dollar spent on wellness programs. The results were slightly lower for absenteeism – $2.73 in savings for every dollar spent. The average study reported an average of 1.7 – 1.9 days absence days saved.


The wider adoption of workplace wellness programs by large employers could produce substantial savings.

Related Posts
    Current or Archive

    see all topics

    see all topics
    Keyword Search
      Navigating the Future of Employee Benefits: Insights from the 25th Annual Health and Productivity Forum
      Sep 26, 2023
      How Employers Can Address Barriers to Preventive Care
      Jul 3, 2023
      Youth Mental Health and the Impact on Caregivers
      May 26, 2023

      IBI Membership


      Get access to the latest tools and research on health and productivity.

      IBI Tools


      Use our resources and proprietary tools to turn data into action.