CDC Aims to Lower Health Costs with Work Wellness Program

May 4, 2014

Jessica Parsons-White is the senior vice president of the local nonprofit Good Measure Meals, a company of about 120 people that delivers premade meals with a healthy slant.

She said the increasing cost of health care is a growing concern of the company.

“We are no different than any other organization," Parsons-White said. "We are a nonprofit that focuses on health and wellness, but we are a company like any other that’s seeing an increase in healthcare costs."

It’s a concern the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to address with Work@Health, a new program being launched here and in three other U.S. cities aimed at lowering medical costs for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The goal is to help businesses like Good Measure Meals develop their own wellness plans through training programs run by the CDC, along with up to $5,000 in grant money.

“We’ve seen those costs escalate over time, sometimes being high single digit, low double digit increases year after year after year,” said Jason Lang, a workplace wellness specialist with the CDC.

Lang said Work@Health is designed to help companies help employees improve their health with programs like dieting plans, fitness classes or anti-smoking campaigns, and ultimately avoid more costly medical care.

“It’s just not a sustainable proposition for employers to be able to compete with other employers or even internationally having to absorb that kind of cost,” Lang said.

The $8 million program is funded through the Affordable Care Act, which some have criticized as having increased health care costs for businesses. About $675,000 dollars of the funding will go toward helping Atlanta-area companies, including Good Measure Meals.

Parsons-White hopes the CDC program will taper medical costs.

“We’re looking for ways to be proactive in preventing increasing costs and managing that,” Parsons-White said.

Her company will receive about $3,000 from the CDC’s Work@Health Program.

The program officially launches in Atlanta later this week.

The other participating cities are Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland.