Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chicago is Spending $24 Million on a Wellness Program and Has No Clue if It's Working

It is so easy not to care when it is not your money.  This is from Crain's Chicago Business:
... [T]he city's watchdog said there are "serious questions" about whether the much-promoted [wellness] program, which aims to get city workers to shape up or pay more, actually has accomplished much except to spend money. 
"While the city spent nearly $10.5 million in taxpayer resources from 2012 to 2014 to improve employee health and reduce health care costs through (the program), the city has not formally assessed the program's impact in either area and, at present has no plans to do so," Ferguson said. With national research mixed on the subject, the city needs to set up "specific performance measurements and analysis" to find out. 
Under policies implemented by Emanuel, workers have to participate in Chicago Lives Healthy screenings, counseling and health activities or pay an extra $50 a month for their health insurance. Not surprising, 85 percent of benefits-eligible workers and dependents have signed up. 
But no formal measure of success has been adopted, Ferguson wrote, and the city's health care tab keeps rising. 
"In fact, despite a 19 percent decrease in its workforce between 2004 and 2013 (41,550 to 33,554 full-time equivalents), the city incurred a 43 percent increase in health care costs." 
The city's current $24 million contract with American Healthways Services, a Tennessee firm that runs the program, is due to expire at the end of the year. The company had received just under $10.5 million from the city through 2014. ...