NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Self-Rating How You Feel, A New Health Trend

January 18, 2001

A few companies are venturing into a new disease management trend: predicting who will get sick. The predictions are based partly on asking employees how they feel. Are they sad, bored or angry?

The answers, along with medical histories, are supposed to help predict which workers will use health services within a year.

  • The concept is being tested by insurers like Humana, employers like Eli Lilly and benefit firms like Definity Health of Minneapolis.
  • All say the voluntary and confidential programs will help steer workers to prevention efforts.
  • In a study of 4,600 Medicare patients, the Haelan Group of Indianapolis claims it predicted with 92 percent accuracy which patients were likely to fall ill.
  • The group says about 550 high-risk patients were given prevention services and the entire group's medical costs fell about 50 percent.

Workers identified as high-risk are offered close supervision of chronic diseases, telephone sessions with nurses, stress counseling or dieting help.

Critics warn that the kind of data generated could lead health insurance companies to discriminate against certain workers.

Source: Julie Appleby, "Firms Try to Predict Who'll Get Sick," USA Today, January 18, 2001.


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