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Larry Chapman Meets Where’s Waldo

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Questions for The Chapman Institute’s Larry Chapman:

We are looking all through the study you cited in defense of Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) and cannot find the 50% savings from HRAs that you say is hidden in here somewhere. This study, despite your CAPITALIZED insistence to the contrary, seems to show the opposite: In 4 of the 6 study periods — and in all 6 periods combined compared to baseline — the control group spending was actually lower than the study group.  So where is the 50% savings that we can’t find?

chapman cuts costs in half

HRA savings over time

ANS:  Refused to Answer

You say HRAs should be treated like “one of your children or at least a beloved pet”.  Have you taken into account the possibility that some HRA respondents may lie, as Professor Woessner advised his Penn State colleagues to do, and as most of the people I know do since most people feel their personal lives should not be the concern of their employers?

ANS:  Refused to Answer

Many people have questioned your understanding of arithmetic even before you found a 50% total healthcare cost reduction due to HRAs by reading the data excerpted above, so here is your chance to enlighten them.  In this article below, you originally stated that Baicker’s analysis (which she has now backed off) reduced medical claims by “327%” and absenteeism costs by “273%”.   How is it possible to reduce a number by more than 100%?

chapman cfo article

ANS: “Workplace Wellness Management” January 10 comment:

“You seem to conveniently forget that the editor of the CFO blog made the error, not me.”

Followup:  You submitted, reviewed and signed off on the original “327% savings” and “273% reduction.”  However — after a commentator pointed out the impossibility of those figures — the editor does acknowledge that you did notice at that point that 327% and 273% reductions in any number are not possible, and asked him to change the figures, first to the above 32.7% and 27.3%, but then to the 3.27-to-1 and 2.73-to-1 (now discredited) figures that were in the Baicker article.  So in the narrowest sense of the word — after you made the initial, most revealing,  mistake by misunderstanding that “3.27-to-1 ROI” and “327% savings” are not interchangeable figures — the editor of the CFO blog is acknowledging “the error,” by not making the final correction in a timely way.  The larger point is that you did submit “327% savings” and “273% reduction” originally, raising the question of why anyone should believe the research findings of someone who doesn’t know that you can’t reduce a number by more than 100%.

ANS:  Refused to answer

You also wrote in 2012 that studies show you can save 25% through wellness.  Most of these studies took place in decades (1980s and 1990s) when dietary advice consisted of telling people to eat more sugar and less fat, and when the AHA gave Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes a “heart-healthy” label?.  How could that kind of misinformed advice show not just savings, but savings 6x greater than the total amount that employers spend  on wellness-sensitive medical events, which is 4%?

ANS:  Refused to answer


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