Evaluation of the relationship between individual well-being and future health care utilization and cost

Popul Health Manag. 2012 Dec;15(6):325-30. doi: 10.1089/pop.2011.0089. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


Escalating health care expenditures highlight the need to identify modifiable predictors of short-term utilization and cost. Thus, the predictive value of individual well-being scores was explored with respect to 1-year health care expenditures and hospital utilization among 2245 employees and members of a health plan who completed the Well-Being Assessment (WBA). The relationship between well-being scores and hospital admissions, emergency room (ER) visits, and medical and prescription expenditures 12-months post WBA was evaluated using multivariate statistical models controlling for participant characteristics and prior cost and utilization. An inverse relationship existed between well-being scores and all measured outcomes (P≤0.01). For every point increase in well-being on a 100-point scale, respondents were 2.2% less likely to have an admission, 1.7% less likely to have an ER visit, and 1.0% less likely to incur any health care costs. Among those who did incur cost, each point increase in well-being was associated with 1% less cost, and individuals with low well-being scores (≤50) had 2.7 times the median annual expenditure of individuals with high well-being (>75) ($5172 and $1885, respectively). Also, well-being proved lowest among respondents who incurred more than $20,000, and was highest among those who incurred ≤$5000, with median scores of 71.1 and 80.3, respectively. These results indicate that individual well-being is a strong predictor of important near-term health care outcomes. Thus, well-being improvement efforts represent a promising approach to decrease future health care utilization and expenditures.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / trends*
  • Hospitalization / trends*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • United States