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The Chicago Sun Times reports that US employers increasingly are asking their workers to improve their fitness and personal health - dealing with conditions such as obesity, tobacco addictions, high blood pressure and high cholesterol - with the alternative being that they will have to pay higher insurance premiums.

An example cited by the paper:

“At Health Care Service Corp., which employs 16,000 people and operates health insurance providers including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the wellness programs include a focus on obesity and getting employees who smoke to quit. As an incentive, this year the company tied 5 percent of its yearly employee bonus plan to a companywide goal of losing 20 tons of weight. To help workers and their dependents quit smoking, the company’s initiatives include requiring smokers to pay more for their health insurance; reimbursing employees for nicotine replacement products, and providing one-on-one counseling. Since the programs were launched, the number of smokers has dropped from an estimated 22 to 25 percent of workers to 13 percent among those self-reporting, said Dr. Paul Handel, chief medical officer at the company.”

According to the story, some say that these kinds of programs and unfairly intrusive, and often target people least able to take the financial hit. However, the paper writes, “Wellness experts say the programs aren’t aimed at punishing workers but are a recognition that when it comes to making healthier choices, some people are motivated more by the risk of losing $100 vs. gaining $100.”
KC's View:
This is the Safeway approach. And as I’ve said here before, I approve. People need to have skin in the game when it comes to their health and health care costs.