Medical costs drop as activity increases, regardless of BMI
To determine whether physical activity levels have an impact on healthcare costs, taking into account body mass index (BMI).
23,490 employees from General Motors Corporation and members of an international union (United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America), who were enrolled in a medical insurance plan from 1996 to 1997 and who had completed a health risk appraisal (HRA).
Data from health risk appraisals were collected and compared with annual healthcare costs (medical and pharmaceutical) between 1996 and 1997.
- Average annual healthcare costs were US$285 less for employees who were at least moderately active than for those who were sedentary.
- Although total costs for obese individuals were higher than those for individuals with lower BMIs, active individuals who were obese incurred up to $499 less charges than sedentary people who were obese.
- Healthcare cost savings were estimated at 1.5% of total healthcare costs if all obese and sedentary employees became moderately active.
What does this mean?
Health promotion programs aimed at improving the physical activity levels of obese employees would be cost-efficient, regardless of weight reduction initiatives.