retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story last week about North Carolina planning to begin taxing state employees who either smoke or who are obese, a move that supposedly could save as much as $13 million in next year’s budget, and I continue to believe that some sort of health accountability – leavened with compassion – is a way to control costs, yet making sure everybody has skin in the game.

MNB user Don Seaquist wrote:

Rewarding healthy changes to one’s lifestyle is a better approach to controlling costs. North Carolina should change their approach to a much needed change to their health plan.

If you devise a system based on punishment rather than reward you will not achieve the wanted/needed results. And after all, that is the point of wellness programs, to increase the health of participants thereby decreasing costs. The best way to control costs is to never have the benefit claim in the first place. Punishing creates anxiety, which we have plenty of already.

The line from our first story today – “better to pay the grocer than the doctor” – isn’t just a great line. It is a metaphor for dealing with problems before they ever become problems.

Some people, of course, feel that such a skin-in-the-game approach is discriminatory, but MNB user Stewart Sundholm wrote:

I don’t see how it’s 'discriminatory' to incent folks to lead healthier (and in the end less of a burden on society) lives. Right now, we pay inflated health care costs, in part to 'balance the risk pool' against those that don’t. Isn’t THAT discriminatory?

MNB user had some thoughts about Tesco’s Fresh & Easy division in the US:

While Tesco is struggling to some degree with their stores in the U.S. market, Fresh & Easy, let’s not forget that this is a new format and will take some time for consumers to catch-up to it. Back in the early 90’s the industry laughed when another company added food to their discount model. The rest is history, 5 years later, Walmart had become the #1 grocer in the country. Not saying that Fresh & Easy will do that, but they are surviving in Southern CA and Phoenix while local grocers, e.g., Basha’s are hanging on for dear life!

KC's View: