Is it worth it? That seems to be the lingering question in plan sponsors’ minds when they decide between various wellness program offerings. There’s strong evidence that these programs aid employee attraction and retention. But do wellness programs deliver measurable return on investment (ROI)?

The answer to that question, according to recent data from Priority Health, is yes.

According to their admittedly small sample (9 midsized, self-insured employers), employees enrolled in a wellness-based plan cost 12 percent less than those who had a standard plan over a four-year period. That translated to $60 saved per employee per month–or $1.2 million saved over four years.

three-year study conducted by HealthMine in conjunction with UnitedHealth Group of 120,000 members also found measurable savings from participation in a wellness program. Over a three-year period, the member population reduced hospital admissions by 10 to 20 percent and reduced hospital readmissions by 50 percent.

Another hospital group in New Jersey saved more than $5 million over five years with a member population of just 8,000.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It pays off, in other words, for plan sponsors to sign up their members in wellness programs.

[Photo Credit: Tax Credits on Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0]