Wednesday, October 10, 2012

PAY TO MAKE YOURSELF SICK?


Many corporations are now offering financial rewards to employees who demonstrate better health practices. Get a “wellness screening,” for example, and you get a $50 bonus. General Mills offers a monthly $10 to tobacco-free employees. Conversely, Walmart deducts $10 each pay period from employees who smoke. The rationale is that people with unhealthy habits (smokers on average consume twenty-five percent more healthcare services than non-smokers) ought to co-pay.

This has come about because of the huge and ever-increasing cost of medical insurance. Employers are expected to spend $11,664 per employee on healthcare in 2012, up from $10,982 last year. That's expected to rise in 2013 by seven percent, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

Some unhealthiness, such as familial hypercholesterolemia, is beyond people’s capacity to correct. But most is chosen, and costs everyone plenty. If we had to pay to smoke, overeat, remain sedentary, and ignore stress, would we continue to do it? Interestingly, that’s exactly the way things were before the advent of medical insurance: you got sick, you paid for treatment. We’ve come almost full circle. 

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