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A more generalizable method to evaluate changes in health care costs with changes in health risks among employers of all sizes

A more generalizable method to evaluate changes in health care costs with changes in health risks among employers of all sizes

Population Health Management 17(5): 297-305

The objective of this study was to estimate the association between changes in health care expenditures relative to changes in health risk status for employers of all sizes. Repeat health risk assessments (HRAs) were obtained from 50,005 employees and spouses with 2 years of health plan enrollment, and from 37,559 employees and spouses with 3 years of enrollment in employer-sponsored medical coverage. Changes in health care expenditures were measured from the year before completion of the first HRA to the years before and after the completion of the second HRA. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for those who did not repeat the HRA so results could be extrapolated to the larger population. Propensity score weighted multiple regression analyses were used to estimate the relationship between changes in health care expenditures with changes in risk status for 9 risk categories. Significantly higher health care expenditures were associated with those who moved from low risk to medium or high risk, compared to those who remained low risk. Expenditure reductions estimated for those who improved their health status from high risk to medium or low risk were not statistically significant. This study is unique because of its large sample size, its use of data from a wide range of employer sizes, and its efforts to extend generalizability to those who did not complete both HRAs. These results demonstrate that the potential for short-term health care savings may be greater for programs that help maintain low risk than for programs focused on risk reduction.

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Accession: 051166707

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24892950

DOI: 10.1089/pop.2013.0103

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