SOURCE: Virgin HealthMiles

Virgin HealthMiles

October 01, 2009 16:26 ET

As U.S. Senate Votes to Reward Healthy Behavior, Virgin HealthMiles Shares Data Validating Workplace Wellness Programs Can Help Lower Healthcare Costs

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - October 1, 2009) - On September 30, the U.S. Senate voted to adopt a measure aimed at rewarding healthy behavior as part of the Obama Administration's overall healthcare reform legislation. The Senate Finance Committee voted for a bi-partisan amendment that would allow health plans to provide financial incentives for people to quit smoking, exercise more and engage in other healthy activities.

Yesterday's vote came in tandem with a new report published in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation, saying U.S. companies could reduce health costs and boost productivity with programs that address risk factors for heart disease among workers. According to the report, an estimated 25-30 percent of companies' annual medical costs go to employees with health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes -- all risk factors for heart disease.

Client data collected by Virgin HealthMiles, a provider of incentives-based health and productivity programs for business and government, corroborates the value of increased physical activity and incentives in lowering healthcare costs. Virgin HealthMiles clients report considerable cost savings as a result of their corporate wellness program. Virgin HealthMiles clients also see quantifiable results from their wellness initiatives: on average, 29% of formerly inactive members have become active; 21% who were hypertensive or pre-hypertensive have lowered their blood pressure by at least one category, and 14% with high body fat percentage have dropped into the healthy range.

The Circulation report further noted that more than 130 million Americans are employed, making the workplace an impactful forum for wellness programs. This echoes a previous report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, showing a direct correlation between health and a person's social ties.

"Today's workplace is an ideal 'community' for fostering a healthy mindset that has been directly proven by our clients to improve employee health and lower healthcare costs," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "Increasing numbers of employers are recognizing they need to take a leadership role to help curb soaring healthcare costs. The beauty of an effective, incentives-based program like ours is that it doesn't require employees to become triathletes, but simply increase their daily levels of physical activity in ways that best suit their lifestyles, such as walking, swimming, dancing or even remembering to take the stairs instead of the elevator. There's ample room for us as a nation to improve our health and the workplace is an ideal environment to encourage and support healthy behavior change."

To speak with Mr. Boyce or for more information about Virgin HealthMiles, contact Kathy Wilson at kwilson@tieronepr.com or 781-652-0499.

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