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Am J Health Promot. 1994 Jan-Feb;8(3):216-23.

Randomized controlled trial of cost reductions from a health education program: the California Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) study.

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  • 1Stanford University School of Medicine, California.


Purpose. This study evaluated the cost trend reduction from a health promotion program. Design. A randomized 12-month trial comparing claims data was conducted. Additional studies, utilizing quasi-experimental designs, analyzed changes in health habits and changes in costs estimated by self-report. Subjects. All active California Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) employees (21,170), non-Medicare eligible retirees (8,316), and retirees with Medical Supplement coverage (25,416) administered by Blue Shield of California were included. Intervention. The program consisted of mailed health risk assessments at six- or 12-month intervals, with individualized reports and recommendation letters sent to participants emphasizing and encouraging change, self-management materials emphasizing self-care when appropriate, and quarterly newsletters. Passive participants received printed materials only. Measures. Health risks were based upon self-report; summary scores were computed by modified Framingham algorithms. Self-report cost data were estimated from reported doctor visits, hospital days, and days sick or confined to home. Claims data were those paid by Blue Shield of California. Results. The program was associated with: 1) reduction in health risk scores at 12 months, (p less than .001), 2) reduction of subject reported medical utilization from baseline (p less than .05), and 3) decrease in claims cost growth relative to controls (p=.03). Annual claims costs were approximately $3.2 to $8.0 million less than expected had costs for the experimental participants increased at the same rate as the control group. Discussion. Results suggest that appropriately designed health promotion programs can reduce health risks and at the same time reduce the medical care claims cost trend.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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