A Harvard Health study proves that employee wellness programs that include mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, help with healthcare savings. How much? As little as $640 to as much as $25,500 per person each year. Not bad for something you can easily ask your company to provide as part of the worksite wellness program.
Up to 80% of medical visits relate to stress and anxiety, but only 3% of the doctors talk to patients about stress-reducing techniques. Why not? Because simple mindfulness practices are not yet covered by insurances.
“There are a lot of great studies on the biologic side, just not enough on the economics,” notes Dr. James E. Stahl, who together with other Harvard researchers studied a mind-body relaxation program offered at Massachusetts General Hospital.
As researchers get more evidence on health benefits and cost-effectiveness of meditation at work, businesses and companies should pay more attention to the subject.
“If I have a tool that works in clinical medicine that has very little side effects and considerable benefit, why would I not use the tool?” Dr. Stahl says.
In another study, Aetna offered a free mindfulness training to its employees and documented a 28% reduction in stress, 20% better sleep, and 19% less pain. Moreover, employees productivity increased approximately by $3000 per worker per year. A great investment for any worksite wellness program. Aetna now offers yoga and meditation on a regular basis.
Mindfulness exercises, like breathing, stretching, and meditation, strengthen the body’s relaxation response while lowering stress-inducing hormones, like cortisol. As a result, regular practitioners see improvements in the heart health and relieving of the anxiety symptoms among many other health benefits. The key to the health cost savings is to find what works and stick to it on a regular basis.
Some larger health insurance companies started to experiment with mindfulness benefits that include meditation, free yoga classes, psychiatrist sessions, fitness, and other employee wellness programs. Check with your individual provider or ask your employer about these benefits. In addition, there are independent companies like SattvaMe, that offer meditation and mindfulness in the workplace. Mindfulness consulting helps to tailor a worksite wellness program for your company’s culture and needs.
- Aetna Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286362/