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More companies invest in wellness programs

John Hancock Financial sponsors a wide range of fitness, nutrition, and health screening programs aimed not only at making employees healthier, but also controlling health insurance costs. With an investment of less than 1% of total health costs in wellness programs, Hancock has reduced medical expenses enough to keep annual premium increases, on average, about 3% points below the national trend. Next year, the company?s employee healthcare costs will rise just over 5%, compared with a national average of 8.4%. ?We believed that the only way to truly work toward healthcare cost reduction was to control the total spend, and to lower that spend by eliminating the need for care of lifestyle-driven illnesses,? said Peter J. Mongeau, vice president of human services at Hancock. ?The only way to do that was through employee health education and behavior change.? Hancock, with employee healthcare costs of $55 million per year, is among a growing cadre of US companies making significant investments in preventive care and wellness programs as a strategy to reduce overall medical costs.

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