Monday, October 31, 2011


It seems employers are just getting tired of paying for unhealthy lifestyles.  Many companies are instituting wellness programs where if you sign-on and get your blood pressure checked and do some smoking cessation classes or a walk here and there, you get rewards.  Maybe you get $25 or $50 for participation or an umbrella or a beach blanket.  A pat on the back could be just the right kind of encouragement to get employees engaged in a healthier lifestyle.

There is a second school of thought however, and it is shared by companies such as Walmart, and Veridian Credit Union which are going the route of the "stick" versus the "carrot".  These companies are charging employees higher premiums for unhealthy lifestyles.  For those that can't get their obesity or cholesterol in check or stopping the smoking habit, they will pay.  Employers are getting tired of making the healthier employees pay for the bad habits or lack of attention to health issues of the unhealthy employees.

The Cleveland Clinic has decided to cut smoking at their medical centers, refused to hire smokers, implemented a comprehensive wellness plan, gym and weight loss classes.   In addition they reduced premiums to those employees who maintained or improved their health.

It seems as though trying to be "nice" regarding having employees become serious about their health isn't working for some employers.  Under health reform (PPACA), employers will be allowed to have a premium differential of 30% in 2012 and could go as high as 50% in 2014 for healthy versus unhealthy employees.  This means that for some unhealthy employees,  that choose to remain that way, health care could get a lot more expensive for them.