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Herman Trend Alert: Healthy Lifestyles to Play a Greater Role in the Workplace

Based on a study recently released by the Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) in Indiana, we believe more employers will put more pressure on their employees to live healthier lifestyles. This study, released last month found that lifestyles play a greater role in health insurance claims than was previously believed.

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Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

From "Herman Trend Alert," by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists

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GREENSBORO, NC — Based on a study recently released by the Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) in Indiana, we believe more employers will put more pressure on their employees to live healthier lifestyles. This study, released last month found that lifestyles play a greater role in health insurance claims than was previously believed.

To determine the results, graduate students in the university’s business-school studied insurance claims and the accompanying health data. The students looked at claims data as well as the blood-test results to determine the cost of lifestyle choices. Of course, all data were anonymous.

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Biomarkers chosen for the study included blood pressure, body mass, tobacco use and cholesterol levels. The study found that there is a direct correlation between these biomarkers, the indicators of a person’s general health and well-being and their heath care claims. Not so surprising.

But here’s the news that shocked us: an amazing 87.5 percent of the claims’ costs were attributable to the individual’s lifestyle. The more closely those bio-markers fell into acceptable guidelines, the lower the individual’s healthcare claims.

The results will have national implications, especially as the developed nations of the world continue to battle rising health-care costs and companies ask employees to shoulder more of the burden.

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Lately, we have witnessed an increasing number of places of employment becoming “smoke-free.” Some of the employees of these organizations shared with us their fears that “maintaining a healthy weight” might be next. They are concerned about the trend towards employers dictating all of an employee’s lifestyle choices.

As we have watched and wondered about the many unhealthy lifestyle choices people make, we can’t help but expect that employers facing huge increases in healthcare costs will begin to be more forceful with their employees. This trend will cause more overall churning in the labor marketplace, as employees rebel against this Big Brother movement on the part of employers.

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In the past, we have written about employers with onsite health clinics (http://www.hermangroup.com/alert/archive_8-23-2006.html) and how they have used these facilities to reduce healthcare costs. We look for employers to embrace these innovations in their quest for greater profitability.

Copyright 1998-2007 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction for publication is allowed by permission of The Herman Group, Inc., and must include the following attribution: "From ‘The Herman Trend Alert,’ by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. (800) 227-3566 or http://www.hermangroup.com. The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc.

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