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News flash: wellness needs an ROI, and here’s why

Do you know whether heartburn pills are safe for long-term use?

A rising chorus of people (the usual suspects — Goetzel, O’Donnell etc.) say you don’t need an ROI from wellness, but here is an essay in Employee Benefit News pointing out why you do, citing three distinct reasons, each sufficient on its own.

By contrast to these three strong arguments in favor of demanding an ROI, the best argument against demanding an ROI from wellness is that you can’t get one, which explains the opposition from those usual suspects.  They were all about ROIs before it was proven that you can’t get one, but that was then and this is now.

Here is one thing that doesn’t need an ROI: screening according to US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines. Ironically, that’s also the one thing that those very same usual suspects are opposed to.  For them, it’s overscreening today, overscreening tomorrow, overscreening forever.




  1. temerick479 says:

    How can anyone argue against an ROI.? A positive “ROI” in any business activity simply means the activity is effective. When Goetzel argues that wellness doesn’t need an ROi, he is simply saying that wellness does not need to be effective. How odd.


  2. Brenda says:

    I can’t stand this new push for “VOI”. First of all it’s soft ROI not this made up VOI and in any business you need to balance hard and soft ROI. You can’t just say everything is intangible and pretend the investment has some imaginary return.


  3. Daniel Prewitt says:

    Have we done an ROI on visits to our doctor? It is interesting that the medical field doesn’t get the same scrutiny (other the UM, pre-auth, and newer focus around consumer transparency). But wellness done right does produce real value in the form of long term health, culture within an organization, productivity, and preventative care. You can argue that it may not be measurable in the first year but it is hard to argue that we American’s need a good kick in the butt on identification of risks and improving our lifestyle. Respectively – Daniel Prewitt (SVP/GM AMC Health)


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Um, actually people have done an ROI on checkups and it turns out they are a waste of time with a slightly greater likelihood of harming you than benefiting you. And I would agree that we (not me, just the record) could use a good kick in the butt, and I would agree that “wellness done right” can provide that. But so far it hasn’t. A new approach is needed.

      Thanks for commenting and I look forward to posting more.


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