The Science of Health Economics and Employee Wellness Programs

The Science of Health Economics and Employee Wellness Programs

Video Excerpt From a Kevin Volpp Overview: Emerging Concepts, Latest Findings
Kevin Volpp, a University of Pennsylvania Professor and nationally renowned authority on health economics, delivers an overview of the subject at a Penn seminar.

This is a 5-minute video excerpt of a presentation by Kevin Volpp on health economics as it applies to employee wellness programs. Over the last five years, an estimated 80 percent of the country's largest corporations have established such programs in an effort to encourage healthier behavior change among their employees. The assumption of these programs is that by assisting employees in smoking cessation, weight loss, regular exercise and healthier eating, the firms can ultimately reduce the cost of health insurance because the employee population will require less medical care.

Volpp, MD, PhD, is the Director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) where he is also a Senior Fellow. In addition, he is a professor of both Medicine at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and Health Care Management at the Wharton School, and Vice Chair of Penn Medicine's Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy.

The seminar, entitled "Behavioral Economics: How People Process Information and Make Decisions" was co-produced by LDI and Penn's Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI).

In his full presentation, Volpp covers the broad range of concepts and findings that constitute the working tools of researchers and corporate managers now engaged in the process of determining the most effective ways to change unhealthy lifestyles in large populations of employees. Among the topics covered are:

  • Forces that influence health-related human decisions
  • Solving the medication adherence problem
  • Framing effects and loss aversion
  • Information vs. economic rewards as incentives
  • The power of default choices
  • Time-inconsistent preferences (present self vs. future self)
  • Commitment devices
  • Simplification of health-related information
  • Most effective incentives in workforce studies
  • Digital devices and health behavior feedback frequency
  • Regret lotteries as incentive devices
  • The "5,000 hour problem"
  • Incentivizing patients AND doctors
  • Putting doctors and hospitals at financial risk
  • How health delivery system have to changes


Kevin Volpp presents in the University of Pennsylvania's Arch Auditorium.