Are those "wellness tests" that some companies do worth anything?

My school district is considering having a private company come and do wellness checks for the staff. This is completely voluntary and the tests cost about $100. I’ve seen other companies, churches, and groups do this same sort of thing.

My GQ is, are these tests worth the money? I already get a physical exam each summer. It isn’t the most intense exam ever, but the doctor does look me over, do a CBC and urinalysis. Is this worth doing?

Below is the body of the email I got from our school nurse regarding this company’s services.

My company used to do wellness screenings, but they were of the height, weight, waist, and fingerstick blood test type combined with a personal wellness profile type.

The primary reason was because there’s a huge number of people who never visit their dr. And have no clue about their heart disease or diabetes risks.

I’d be wary of a private outfit trying to sell you tests that your primary care doctor didn’t order. At best it will make your wallet lighter and may make you more paranoid than necessary.

For someone that gets a regular physical, no. Most employers that went down this path are doing it to lower their health insurance expenses. Many people, even when they are covered by good insurance that covers preventative care 100% [I believe most non-catastrophic insurance with the PPACA reforms these days] often choose to not go to a doctor unless they are ill. Some people just do not want to get a regular physical or visit a doctor if they do not have a specific complaint. For that reason when they do eventually need their health insurance benefits it’s likely to be for something major, something major enough to have lead them to go to the ER or their primary care physician and that developed into a major health issue.

So these wellness screens were a way to try and cut down on that and get employees to be more engaged with their own healthcare. That’s why most employers I’ve heard of that have done this stuff paid for the cost of the screenings, the employees were not expected to pay anything out of pocket. In terms of what they measured/test it’s fairly similar to what you’d get from a physical, blood pressure, blood draw testing for the common things, waist circumference and etc. What they won’t do is say, the direct physical examination a PCP might have you do (mine always has me strip my shirt off so he can exam me and I’ve never seen people doing that at the wellness checks.)

I’ve honestly never heard of the companies going around selling wellness exams for $100 a pop, and if you have health insurance it’s likely it provides you no benefit you cannot already get for no out of pocket cost.

There have been some studies that show it is not worth the money. The cost of providing the preventive services is not recouped in lower costs for treatment. Here’s one of them; I seem to remember a better article from a year or two ago but I can’t find it right now.

I believe this is the on I was remembering:

If it’s worth anything, I’ll share my anecdote. I work for a hospital that does annual, voluntary wellness testing on its (thousands of) employees, for which you can receive discounts on your health insurance premiums if you meet last year’s numbers or improve. Certain “danger” numbers typically require a doctor’s visit and a form letter signed by the doctor asserting that it is being worked on.

The only testing they do are height/weight/waist circumference/BMI, blood pressure, health behavior questionnaires, tobacco use/cessation, and blood testing for HbA1C (diabetes test) and cholesterol.

No optional paid tests involved.

Short answer is no, not these “wellness tests”, not according to guidelines.

Here and here.

In some cases screening may do more harms than good. Only worthwhile for select sub-groups identified by risk factors.

More a scam than wellness testing.

BTW that’s in contrast to the sort of wellness testing that Ferret Herder references, which is usually either free to employees or even incentivized with a monthly insurance discount for participation. Those are more proven cost-effective as general population screens (hence why the company is willing to pay for them; across a population it is likely to save them money over time) … but if already done with a regular wellness visit are superfluous.

One way it might be less than ideal is if many of the employees have licenses that require medical fitness evaluations and disclosures. Iirc, if a licensed aircraft pilot in the US is diagnosed with any condition or prescribed any medication, they have to promptly report that to the FAA. If you never get diagnosed, well, nobody told me I had <minor condition>, how could I report that? I just thought I was feeling weaker because I was getting older. I’ve also heard that this kind of thing is a problem in the US military - that many (all?) soldiers are required to report mental health treatment and so many just decide to deal with their problems themselves and end up going apeshit rather than getting help, because they don’t want to lose their job over a “not fit for duty” evaluation.