Small employers can save up to $1.65 in health-care costs for every dollar invested in a workplace wellness program, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by Pittsburgh-based health insurance provider Highmark Inc. and published this week in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that reduced in-patient costs yielded the highest return on investment as a result of an increased use of screenings and medications among employees.

It also found that a wellness program generated savings regardless of the general level of health among employees at a program's outset.

Brian Day, the company's director of analytics, said these programs not only improve the health of employees, but also slow the rate of health-care cost increases.

Small-business owners typically cite rising health-care costs as a top concern.