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Thu Feb 28, 2013, 08:19 AM

Why Workers Should Be Wary About Corporate 'Wellness' -

http://www.thenation.com/article/173088/why-workers-should-be-wary-about-corporate-wellness



A growing number of US companies are now urging their employees to slim down, exercise more, reduce their cholesterol and blood pressure levels, or quit smoking—all socially desirable goals. But if these workers fail to cooperate with the new corporate “wellness” regime and adopt a healthier lifestyle (under the tutelage of their employer), the penalty, for many, will be higher out-of-pocket payments. - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/173088/why-workers-should-be-wary-about-corporate-wellness#sthash.nhuRP0Rw.dpuf

Corporate America has long been shifting the burden of medical costs onto workers. Cost-sharing negotiated with unions or, more commonly, imposed unilaterally by non-union firms has raised labor’s share of health insurance premiums to an average of 18 percent for individual coverage and nearly 30 percent for families. Workers or their dependents also face escalating deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance, which can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to their annual healthcare spending.

Now, under the banner of health promotion, management is also making some workers pay more for their insurance based on individual differences in their medical condition or lack of adherence to “wellness” standards. This new, more individualized form of cost-shifting threatens to stigmatize and penalize the chronic health conditions of millions of workers, expose some to job discrimination and undermine labor solidarity in the process. In addition, workplace privacy advocates are warning about the invasiveness of so-called “health risk assessments”—now commonly required in corporate wellness programs—because these surveys probe off-duty behavior related to sex, drugs and alcohol.

Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), management can already compel some workers to pay up to 20 percent more than others covered by the same medical plan. According to Lewis Maltby of the National Workrights Institute, “all that is required is that the penalty be ‘designed to promote good health.’ The employer is not required to demonstrate that the amount approximates the increase in cost due to an employee who engages in any unhealthy behavior.” Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, “this abuse will continue to grow,” Maltby predicts, “when the penalty employers can charge without justification increases to 30 percent” next year.

- See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/173088/why-workers-should-be-wary-about-corporate-wellness#sthash.nhuRP0Rw.dpuf

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Reply Why Workers Should Be Wary About Corporate 'Wellness' - (Original post)
xchrom Feb 2013 OP
Lifelong Protester Feb 2013 #1
Sherman A1 Feb 2013 #3
Lifelong Protester Feb 2013 #13
samplegirl Feb 2013 #2
mwooldri Feb 2013 #4
canoeist52 Feb 2013 #5
Brigid Feb 2013 #9
Brickbat Feb 2013 #6
TalkingDog Feb 2013 #7
NewJeffCT Feb 2013 #8
marmar Feb 2013 #10
Myrina Feb 2013 #11
MountainLaurel Feb 2013 #12
tammywammy Feb 2013 #14
Rex Feb 2013 #15
SoCalDem Feb 2013 #16
CrispyQ Feb 2013 #17

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 08:24 AM

1. Be wary! Corporations never do anything

without making sure there is something for them, and usually a BIG something for them, in it.

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Response to Lifelong Protester (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 09:10 AM

3. Precisely

It's always what is in the corporation's best interest. That said, if there is a way to find a benefit for yourself in the mix of their "generosity" it's not a bad thing altogether.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:29 PM

13. Agreed, the self-awareness information

gathered certainly can be useful, but unfortunately nowadays, I am terribly skeptical of anything being altruistic. Or maybe I'm a cynic? Or both?

Our health insurance does a yearly 'wellness' survey, and it is supposed to be for our own use (the self). Now I'm wondering....

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 09:06 AM

2. My sister in-law

is already screened at work for this. She works in a hospital and has to pay more for a higher cholesterol. At age 55 I doubt that your cholesterol would be perfect.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:16 AM

4. It's kinda been that way at my work for some years.

The smoking part, that is. If you say you do smoke, or refuse to say, you get assessed the higher smoking health premium. If you say you don't smoke, or you're trying to quit smoking, you get the "standard" rate. At least with the slim down, more exercise my employer has been more "carrot" than "stick" at this point. A couple of years ago there was a walking program, we were supplied with pedometers, and we had to log our daily steps. Get enough steps in and some money is put into your HSA. Go through a health survey, and get money in your HSA. Last year I took advantage of the free Weightwatchers program being offered.

Also this in-network, out-of-network business can be really messy. My employer changed the insurance company who administers our health plan (company self-insures). So a medical company we use has gone from in network to out of network. The insurance company has a strange arrangement with the out-of-network medical providers where I would pay the normal in-network rate, but it all goes to out-of-network deductible. Fortunately the in-network and out-of-network deductibles are tied together so any medical expenses - in or out of network - count to meeting the deductible and total out of pocket targets.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:21 AM

5. Work more hours for less pay.

Then pay again for the result from stress from working more hours for less pay. Are we there yet?

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Response to canoeist52 (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:30 AM

9. Yep.

That hamster my sister once had, running around on its little wheel, comes to mind.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:23 AM

6. It's so much better to have your employer getting between you and your doctor, rather than the

government.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:23 AM

7. The county govt. where the Spousal Unit works already has a version of this.

They give you an evaluation every year. If you don't continue to improve on at least one area you are penalized. This includes increases in the amount you pony up for your share of the health plan.

Spousal Unit is very fit, well within the limits of weight/body fat. At 54 takes NO medication whatsoever. Cholesterol within limits, BP within limits. Gets lots of exercise, eats very well (vegan 2 days a week, home made -read: non-processed - most of the rest of the time)

Can you see where this is headed?

People who start out in horrible shape have places they can improve over a number of years. The system, as it is currently configured, isn't set up to deal with people who come into the system in good health. Healthy people are penalized, unless they intentionally do things that are bad for them, so they can make "improvements".

It's the epitome of bureaucracy, stupid and short sighted.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 10:29 AM

8. If the company gives their employees time

to improve their fitness levels - discounts to health club memberships, time to exercise, etc - then I think it's okay.

However, a lot of the time, I work extra hours because it's "expected" of a salaried employee, so barely have time to keep up with eating and sleeping, let alone exercise regularly. I somehow doubt the company will allow me to cut back on hours in order to exercise... and, I'm sure many others are in similar situations.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 11:02 AM

10. k/r

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 11:04 AM

11. And, it's the company's HR dep't that sets the 'wellness standards' ...

... my former employer has one of those programs, and while yes I am 'overweight', all of my other measurments (BP, triglicerides, cholestorol etc) are within normal limits according to my doctor.
However, I did NOT meet the company's stricter guidelines so therefore didn't qualify for the 'healthy living' bonus that they apply toward one's annual insurance deductible.

So, they're slanting the playing field so that even if you DO participate, they still don't have to pay because there's no way you can meet their artificially constructed 'normal'.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 11:14 AM

12. My employer participates in this program

http://us.virginhealthmiles.com/pages/home.aspx

Basically, they track how "active" you are via a pedometer, you get your cholesterol and glucose measured twice a year, you measure your weight, body fat, and BP 4 times a year, etc. Otherwise, you don't receive the "discount" on your health insurance that keeps it from being prohibitively expensive.

BTW, this is the CEO who began our participation in the program:

http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/HR-278723/Ochsner-CEO-Rails-Against-Smoking.html

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Response to MountainLaurel (Reply #12)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:40 PM

14. We do the Virgin Healthmiles at work too

Only the pedometer aspect. We have a co-insurance thingy, and there are levels you reach with healthmiles and you get money from the company to put into your bank (HSA? FSA? whichever one just rolls over every year) to go toward your deducible. Employees not on the health insurance here can still participate and just get the money straight. They're always running challenges - walk so many steps in a week and you get 250 miles, etc.

Then they ask us to fill in a "personal health assessment" for money, but that's optional, and you can lie.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:42 PM

15. I am thankful I don't work for a McCorporation

and hope I never do again! Their bottom line is always more important then the people that work for them. Always.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 01:49 PM

16. Do the job..get paid..go home.. bosses should BUTT OUT.

It used to be this way before bosses started paying all.some of the benefits, and health care was affordable for most people.

We had NO health care insurance when I was a teenager, and on our family's modest income, we all went to the doctor, dentist, got medicine and glasses.

Once the boss gets involved, he/she "owns" more of you than they ever should.

Employees should show up, do the work, and then go home to their own lives.

The boss should have NO interest in what you eat, if you smoke or drink or do whatever on your own time...unless of course, you show up for work drunk or light up on the job.

We traded freedom for some lousy health care insurance that often does far less than necessary, and is a major pain in the ass for most of us.

What we NEED is nationalized health care that is paid through our taxes, and paychecks that reflect what the bosses SAY they have been paying for our "care".

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 05:45 PM

17. If they do this, they should be required to put a gym & locker room in the facility &

provide time for employees to work out. I could not change, workout for 30 minutes, shower, change & eat & be back at work in one hour.

I wish I'd saved the link, but there was a story recently about some companies offering 'produce credits' as a health benefit. Produce is one of the most expensive departments. A family of four was allotted something like $5 per week, per family member. For a family of four, that's an $80 boost to your produce budget.

On edit: The current issue of Time magazine has a feature on health care in America. If you read it, be prepared to fume.

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