A Harvard Health study proves that mindfulness practices, like meditation and yoga, help with healthcare savings. How much? As little as $640 to as much as $25,500 per patient each year. Not bad for something you can easily do on your own at home or ask your company to provide as part of the mindfulness 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 mindful practices, like breathing, yoga, meditation, 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 yoga and meditation programs, 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 program 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 company. Aetna now offers yoga and meditation on a regular basis.
Mindful exercises, like breathing, stretching and meditation, strengthen 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 for you and stick to it on a regular basis.
Some larger health insurance companies already offer mindfulness programs that might include meditation, free yoga classes, psychiatrist sessions, fitness and other wellness services. 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 practices at work. Inquire about a possible partnership and they will help you to tailor a program to your company’s culture and schedule.
- Aetna Study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286362/