Rating Workers' Unhealthy Habits

THESE DAYS, EMPLOYERS want to know which of their employees' risky health habits cost them the most. To help Chrysler Corp. find out, Milliman & Robertson Inc., a health-care consulting firm, and StayWell Health Management Systems in St. Paul, which operates wellness programs, analyzed three years of the auto maker's health claims to measure the costs of 10 different health behaviors--everything from alcohol consumption and stress to cholesterol and mental health. The results? Smoking and being overweight were the two most expensive risks (charts). Annual claim costs for smokers were 31% higher than nonsmokers. Overweight employees cost even more--their claims were 37% higher than their slimmer colleagues, while the number of days they spent in the hospital was 143% greater.

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