SOURCE: Virgin HealthMiles

Virgin HealthMiles

January 11, 2011 10:21 ET

Virgin HealthMiles Helps Organizations Kick Off 2011 With Resolution to Create Healthier Workforces, Lower Costs

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - January 11, 2011) - New Year's brings another year of double-digit healthcare cost increases for the employers that provide coverage to the majority of Americans today. Forward-thinking companies are turning to prevention as the best strategy to counter this trend. Virgin HealthMiles, a leading provider of technology-based employee health and productivity programs that align employee wellness incentives with healthy behavior change, is helping more than 120 large organizations across the U.S. make demonstrable improvements in employee health and realize measurable results from their employee wellness investments. 

Companies across the country are feeling the effects of an unhealthy workforce. Lifestyle-related chronic conditions are driving more than 75 percent of today's healthcare costs. Premium costs are rising on average 10 percent per year, the majority of which businesses incur. And today's 7 most prevalent chronic diseases represent nearly $1 trillion in lost economic output. American business has reached a tipping point where unmanaged, preventable healthcare costs have become one of the largest drains on their income statements. 

Beyond businesses, rising healthcare costs increasingly burden the American worker. The American Journal of Medicine reports more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies are due to medical bills. Savvy employers know they must take a leadership role in curbing healthcare costs to protect their employees and their bottom lines. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study showed 94 percent of employers believe they can do a better job supporting their employees in managing their health to reduce costs and improve business performance.

"Out of control healthcare costs are a board-level issue for virtually every U.S. organization," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "The good news is that, because there's a proven direct link between personal choices and chronic conditions and disease, we can take action and do something to help solve the problem. Heading into 2011, one of the best strategies organizations can employ is to focus on prevention and take a proactive approach to help employees stay healthy. It's all about preventing the onset of chronic conditions that drive the majority of healthcare costs impacting businesses and employees."

Virgin HealthMiles members exemplify how prevention-focused employee wellness programs help individuals make measurable health improvements and reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. For instance:

  • Jean M. lost more than 60 pounds with HealthMiles since April 2010, dropped from a size 20-22 to an 8-10, and reduced her Body Mass Index (BMI) by one category from 37 (obese) to less than 27. 
  • Sharon M., who underwent surgery and chemotherapy for Stage IIIc ovarian cancer, stayed active during her fight. With HealthMiles, Sharon lost 28 of the 30 pounds she'd gained during chemotherapy and lowered her BMI, a goal her doctors encouraged. 
  • Walter C. was approaching 40 and started taking medication to lower his cholesterol. As Walter became more physically active with HealthMiles, he was inspired to start running and cycling. After one year, Walter's cholesterol dropped from 240 to 118 and his doctor scaled back his cholesterol medication, with a goal of eliminating it altogether. Plus, Walter completed his first marathon a year after he struggled to run a single mile. 
  • Linda M., who battled lifelong weight issues, hoped a surgical "lap band" procedure would help her shed some of her 267 pounds. When she was rejected for the procedure, she turned to HealthMiles for help. By getting active, in combination with sensible eating, Linda lost 65 pounds. Plus, both Linda's blood pressure and cholesterol medications have been cut in half, with the potential to eventually be eliminated. 

A recent analysis evaluated 11,000 Virgin HealthMiles members over an 18-month period. Data from this analysis showed that fully 50 percent of these members who were previously categorized as physically inactive became and remained active. Moreover, additional data shows that within just 12 months with the HealthMiles program:

  • 29 percent of members, on average, who were previously inactive have become and stayed active
  • 21 percent of members who were hyper or pre-hypertensive lowered their blood pressure by at least one category
  • 14 percent of members with a high body fat percentage dropped into the healthy range

Investing in programs that help employees improve their health helps organizations reap benefits in the form greater productivity and cost savings. Virgin HealthMiles' clients report significant cost savings as a result of the program:

  • One client with more than 7,000 employees covered under its self-funded group reported 2010 medical premiums increased only 3 percent while the national average trended at approximately 10 percent. That same client reported 2009 medical claims were down over 2008 by $3 million. 
  • Another client reported health/medical/prescription claims expenses from June 2009 - May 2010 were 4.14 percent less than claim expenses during that same time a year prior, while membership in the program grew by 1.15 percent. That same client also reported realizing a net savings of nearly $160,000 after they funded the HealthMiles program.
  • One client reported, since implementing the Virgin HealthMiles program in 2008, healthcare costs for 2009 and 2010 did not increase.

About Virgin HealthMiles
Virgin HealthMiles provides technology-based employee health programs that pay people to get active. The company's Pay-for-Prevention™ approach, based on physical activity and healthy lifestyle change, attracts an average of 40 percent of employees who participate, which helps organizations reduce medical costs and improve employee productivity and satisfaction. The program is offered by employers, government entities, and insurers. Over 120 industry leaders representing more than 700,000 employees across the U.S., including American Diabetes Association, Intuit, OhioHealth, Ochsner Health System, MWV, Protective Life, SunGard, SunTrust, and Timberland have selected Virgin HealthMiles' award-winning program for their employees. The company is a member of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. For more information, visit

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