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We're seeing efforts to get us all to take responsibility for our own health all over the country. In New York they've banned big sugary drinks. Most companies have disallowed smoking anywhere on the property of that business. Some call New York a "nanny" state and for the most part I agree because I just don't think that's the way to go about it.
But let's talk insurance. When you work at a company where the employees utilize their insurance a lot because of so many visits to the doctor and/or hospital, premiums eventually go up for everyone on the plan. So I think it's a good idea for everyone to try and stay as healthy as they can by adopting a health lifestyle. I know, many times that's easier said than done. That pizza just looks too good sometimes to avoid.
The previous insurance company our company used, would provide rewards on premiums if you could prove you led a healthy lifestyle, not smoking, exercising, eating right, taking part in health education discussions, etc. At first I thought it was a pain, but I came to enjoy it because it did help me personally and I paid lower premiums as a result.
But here's what I don't like. I don't like it when they penalize workers for not following a particular insurance company's guidelines. Workers at Wal Mart pay a 10-dollar surcharge every payday if they smoke. I'd much rather see these companies offer rewards as incentives to quit smoking or eat right. But some companies are going so far as to monitor employees' blood pressure and cholesterol levels. That's a bit much and it smacks of big brother. And you want to talk about a "nanny" state?
Not only that, but let's say a worker has a family history of high cholesterol. You going to penalize them for that?
From the employer's perspective, there's incentive for them to whip their workers into shape. It's expected companies will pay about 12-thousand-dollars per employee for health care in 2012. They're desperate to get those costs under control.
So what's the answer? I say let some workers see the benefits other workers are enjoying because of a more healthy lifestyle. Maybe that'll incentivize them to do the same.