How Will You Promote Good Health– By Gifting Or By Punishing?

With the new health care reform coming into existence many employers are making good health a mandatory issue for their employees. Some are coming up with measures to motivate people while others are taking to the stick. There are employers who are giving their employees cost-effective facilities to improve their health. Medical centres like Cleveland Clinic are having a fitness centre where their employees can take part in fitness, weight watching programs and yoga. This saves them money they’d have to spend on a general gym.

About 34 % of employers are planning to offer wellness incentives to their employees apart from providing healthcare facilities at low costs. In order to save up on insurance, the employers might find offering these health care perks, a bait. But they are only for the short term. In the long run, the employer will be sucked out of his monetary resources because in order to promote health for each and every employee the costs would be more than what he’d have to spend on health care insurance. Moreover, can you guarantee disease-free health to people even if they follow the employee wellness program strict health care regime? I know of a gentleman who used to jog 7 miles a day and eat a healthy vegan diet but still succumbed to a massive heart attack when he was 70 years old.

Some employers are desperately trying to promote health care with financial incentives, but this seems to be still rare. If employees are interested in knowing if their companies are offering them these services they should check with their human resources departments.

As a first step towards the wellness program employees are made to undergo a medical examination which comes up with their health status based on which they are guided in the course of action that they need to take to improve their health.

Some companies are offering retail gift coupons as well as low and convenient health care premiums to motivate their workers into undertaking wellness programs. For example, if you are an employee of Prudential you get $150 for taking a health risk assessment and get a $20 discount for joining a gym.

Motivational measures are good. But there are some companies that are compelling their employees to take up cons of new health care reformwellness programs. For example, the state of North Carolina is mandating people to follow some health care procedures laid out by them. Non-compliant people will be put on the more expensive insurance plans. Penalty for obesity and for smoking will be imposed from 2010. Smokers, who don’t comply with the health care plan devised for them, will have to pay up $40 more per month than they’d normally do under the healthcare plan. Similarly the obese are given a definite time in which they have to show signs of improving upon their BMI readings failing which they’ll have to pay a penalty.

Most of us might be against the penalty on humanitarian grounds. Especially for obesity, I don’t think this is quite justified because there might be reasons which may be beyond one, like genetic inheritance. Also making the health care bill mandatory is a punishment for the common man.

About: Claude Ford

American economist. Nobel Laureate in Economics in 2017 for his contribution to the field of behavioral economics. Honorary Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the School of Business of the University of Chicago.


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