Turn on the news anytime and one thing becomes perfectly clear: everyone’s talking about healthcare. From Instagram to the steps of Capitol Hill.
It’s definitely a non-partisan issue – healthcare is important to all of us; rich, poor, young and old. We all want to live longer, healthier lives. So, what can we do while confusion continues to play out on the hill?
Everyone knows meditation is beneficial, but just HOW beneficial is it? And, is it worth the time to find one that works for you? More than one journal review on mindfulness meditation techniques has concluded that it has major potential as a positive healthcare intervention:
“The higher quality studies have shown statistically significant results in mitigating psychological stress, depressive recurrence and pain. These studies have also demonstrated statistically significant increases in spirituality and positive health measures,” writes researcher Hilary Abbey.
Authors from Duke, Kaiser Permanente, Harvard, and Yale, among others, contributed to a another journal article that points to a remarkable amount of evidence on the positive health effects of meditation programs.
In a world where we’re struggling for the funds to insure healthcare coverage for a growing population, meditation is easy, inexpensive, and so beneficial.
Cutting Costs and Changing Lives
You might be wondering — does meditation ACTUALLY reduce healthcare costs? The simple answer is YES. There are many studies that have analyzed this for years, and they agree: meditation saves big bucks.
One paper evaluated various studies of meditation and cardiovascular disease and found that meditation “may be responsible for reductions of 80% or greater in medical insurance claims and payments to physicians.” That’s incredible considering that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death; by 2030 they’re expected to cost the U.S. more than $818 billion annually.
Helping People Get Healthier
Cancer: Another study examined the effects of mindfulness meditation on a group of women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The women who meditated had
- better immune system biomarkers
- reduced stress hormones
- improved quality of life
- better coping skills.
Considering cancer costs the U.S. around $87.8 billion in direct medical costs per year, these benefits are invaluable.
Depression is an illness that takes a massive financial toll on society, estimated at a whopping $210 billion per year. A meditation-based intervention for depression was shown to be better at preventing relapse than antidepressants — and a meditation-based stress reduction program was found to successfully treat anxiety disorders, as well.
Wellness at Work and Reducing the Bottom Line
When we’re talking about healthcare costs, employers often carry a large share of the financial burden. When meditation is part of an employee wellness program, it can make a world of difference to the company’s budget. And to the wellbeing and productivity of each employee.
So how much — exactly — can meditation and wellness efforts cut costs for businesses and employers? Johnson & Johnson estimates that wellness programs have saved the organization $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.
Healthier Employees, Higher Profits
Many companies today are realizing that meditation can make a big difference to their bottom line and the many benefits it brings; healthier employees mean more profits. The Huffington Post reported on the focus of Promega — a major biotech company. “Promega is among the increasing ranks of companies that have come to embrace so-called mindfulness activities — concentrated meditation aimed at sharpening focus and reducing stress — in a bid to improve the well-being of their workforces and, by extension, the bottom line,”
Healthcare giant Aetna is another example. After realizing that workers in its most stressful jobs were racking up healthcare bills that exceeded those of other employees by around $2,000 a year, they ended up reducing costs by seven percent — “a savings the CEO pegs in part to limiting stress through meditation and yoga.”
When wellness programs are added to health benefits plans, it can change the company culture for the better, people are happier, and profits increase. It’s a win win all the way around. One company, SOS Method, provided meditations, practical tools and Discovery Series programs to (bla bla Safari camps. ____name of woman and position – reported that, “ give her quote from video.” Everyone, from the staff to the CEO’s, were excited by how easily they could incorporate SOS into their daily lives.
More top level management is catching on — just ask all of the CEOs who are into the practice. Executive Management Associates CEO Nancy Slomowitz, for example, began offering meditation classes to staffers and reduced her company’s health insurance costs.
Creating a Sustainable, Happy Future
Around $3.2 trillion is spent on healthcare every year in the U.S. That’s a staggering number. Imagine if we all embraced meditation as a form of preventative care? How much money would we save? How many lives would be changed?
Clearly, meditation is more than just a nice idea; it’s a demonstrably effective means of lowering healthcare costs and developing a needed happiness quotient into the welfare of each person. On a society-wide level, this is a game-changer! Maybe the healthcare concerns of today are actually creating the perfect storm to bring about healthier happier lives for us all.