Decreasing Healthcare Costs

Decreasing healthcare costs is a common topic in today’s headlines in the United States. Politicians talk about healthcare reform, as solutions are desperately needed to reduce the spending and increase preventative care options. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is a federal agency, promoted the practice of mindfulness last year by encouraging workplace mindfulness interventions (Kachan, et al., 2017).  

Many institutions now include preventative care or wellness programming opportunities to their employees as a way to reduce healthcare issues and costs. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and the American Psychological Association have studied the negative impact stress has on health and offer many suggestions to lower stress, including mindfulness. In addition, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement in mid-2017 that promotes the practice of mindfulness meditation as another resource for cardiovascular risk reduction (Levine et al., 2017). The list of approved drugs by the Food and Drug Administration for anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and other issues related to high stress is growing. The cost of a new drug can reach $800 million or higher when research and developmental costs are factored in (Kraft and Furlong, 2015). Prescription drugs are rapidly rising and as a result, many individuals, institutions, and insurance companies are looking for alternative strategies. The goal of decreasing healthcare cost includes finding new tangible alternatives for individuals to try that are backed by science. One alternative to this problem could include employer-offered mindfulness programming for all employees.  Mindfulness, which is a form of meditation and can be defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 2013, p. xxvii).

Employees practicing mindfulness can reap the benefits such as the positive impact it has on stress and life quality (Khory, Sharma, Rush, & Fournier, 2015), decreased anxiety, depression, and pain (Harnett, 2014). Zimmaro, et al., stated individuals with increased mindfulness reported much lower observed stress and linked the practice to greater psychological well-being (2016).

The United States Department of Agriculture’s website lists resources for mindfulness ( The webpage is packed with videos, lists of informative websites, and articles that explain the science behind the practice. There are several categories such as Mindfulness and Trauma, Mindfulness in the Work Place, and Mindfulness and PTSD. Since 1979, mindfulness has been increasing in acceptance and “one probable reason for this popularity is a growing body of research showing that mindfulness provides a number of physical and psychological benefits” (Hyland et al., 2015).

As a society, it has become a cultural norm to promote healthy eating and physical exercise in order to stay healthy and promote well-being. Now that science has revealed the association with many positive benefits from practicing mindfulness, it only seems appropriate that employers would allow for this type of programming to be incorporated into their wellness plan. Is it better for employers to offer mindfulness training while they are working in hopes it reduces stress for their employee? It will be interesting to see how wellness programs change over the next decade.

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