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By Kim Bainbridge

Employee healthcare is one of the highest costs that businesses pay every year.

Americans spent $3.3 trillion on healthcare in 2016 with government data projecting that healthcare costs will outpace GDP growth through 2025.

Short of charging employees more for less coverage there are few things that business owners can do to truly cut healthcare costs.

Company-wide wellness programs have increased in popularity over the last decade and show promising signs of being able to help companies save on healthcare by reducing the number of employees who develop chronic illnesses.

Here are 5 ways to use employee wellness programs to save on employee healthcare.

Educate your employees

Engage and empower your workers with information that they can use to improve their overall health and well-being on their own.

Focus on disease management

Programs that remind people to take their medications, schedule checkups and otherwise stabilize their current conditions offer the highest ROI by helping to keep your employees out of the emergency room.

Doctor talking with patient in office
Jetta Productions/Blend Images / Getty Images/Blend Images

Find a partner

Work with hospitals or health professionals to create the best short- and long-term wellness programs for your staff's needs.

Invest in lifestyle management programs

Lifestyle programs like fitness competitions and smoking cessation programs may not show immediate returns, but they can cut costs in the long term by preventing at-risk employees from developing costly illnesses.

Measure your program's success

Wellness programs can be a great resource, but if no one uses them or they aren't working, they're a waste of time. Measure things like weight loss, activity levels, and other health factors to see if your program needs to pivot.