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Live Free 09-08-2014 04:06 PM

Tired of company butting into our healthcare...
 
This is not meant to be a political rant about the US health care system.

Maybe I'm just cranky today, but I am sick to death of the tie of health insurance to employment. Unless we change jobs (not so easy in this day and age), we are trapped.

Two years ago, my DH's company started charging an extra $1K/yr for working spouses that could obtain insurance at their own firm. I understand why my DH's company (a Fortune 50 company) does this, but personally, I feel like we are being penalized for me being a working spouse. His co-workers have stay-at-home wives and they are paying less than we are. My own corporate insurance is VERY expensive, so even with the $1K premium it is far cheaper for our family to go with his insurance.

Also, two years ago, they went to an HSA/high deductible plan and premiums went up significantly. For a young family with no health issues, this might be a great option, as the HSA can build up over time. For us, however, we have a child with significant health care needs and we pretty much hit our max out of pocket pretty quickly and drain the HSA each year. We are paying nearly $13K/yr between premiums and hitting max out of pocket.

To help offset the large increase in premiums, etc. DH's company "contributed" $500 to our HSA each year.

Now, this week in the mail, we get the news that the company's "contribution" is contingent on both the employee and the employee's spouse having a "biometric screening" and "health risk assessment". These are not to be done under our health insurance company, but with some other company (at a subcontracted lab or you can have your own doctor complete the form, but the exam is on our own dime). Based on the results of the screenings, this company will contact the employee and employee's spouse with a health action plan and will offer up smoking cessation, weight management programs, fitness programs, walk challenges, nutrition education, etc. I am certain his company views this as a "benefit". I view it as a hassle and yet another invasion of privacy.

Does my DH's company really need to get involved in his health care? With my (a non-employee) health care? Isn't that why I see my own DOCTOR? Why are we providing our private medical information to some company that is not our health insurance carrier or our doctor? What kind of security do they have with this info? Are the health action plans medically appropriate?

Of course we do not have to participate in this "voluntary" program. But with the usual significant increases in our health insurance premiums, we need to do this to help offset the never ending rate increases and continue to get the company contribution.

I feel like DH's company could have mailed out a post card each quarter with offerings for free health programs (smoking cessation, etc.) and not tied it to money. They don't need to incentivize me. I have my own health action plan, doctor-approved, and I'm happy with it. I don't need some unknown "health incentive" company monitoring my blood work, my health, my life.

Given that DH's company is a large employer, I'm guessing this is where health care is heading in corporate America. Your employer is also now your health babysitter. >:(

OK. Rant over.

foxfirev5 09-08-2014 04:24 PM

I feel your pain. Big brother is all over us. Today DW and I completed the first phase of our enrollment in the company wellness program. If we do not comply it will cost us a couple thousand more per year. Since I am only 1 1/2 years from ER I was tempted to skip it and take my lumps. But I am a cheapskate.

The next step is to get counseling regarding my BMI and BP. My plan is to drastically reduce my travel and work hours to reduce stress and allow for more healthy activities. We'll see how that goes.

youbet 09-08-2014 04:32 PM

Clearly, your DH's company should not offer company subsidized health insurance, period. They should remove it from the offered compensation package and simply pay whatever cash it takes to recruit and retain qualified employees without health insurance. Employees can purchase health insurance on the open market using the ACA.

Separating employment from health insurance is what I see as the main benefit of the ACA and I hope to see employers, especially government employers, stop offering health insurance in the future.

mpeirce 09-08-2014 04:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1491212)
Maybe I'm just cranky today, but I am sick to death of the tie of health insurance to employment. Unless we change jobs (not so easy in this day and age), we are trapped.

I agree it would be best to decouple health insurance from employment.

But in a similar vein, this is also my fear about the government getting involved in health care - mandating coverage, poking their nose into my business since he who pays the piper calls the tunes.

And it'll be a lot harder to change "providers" - leaving the country rather than just changing jobs.

JakeBrake 09-08-2014 04:47 PM

My MegaCorp (a Fortune 50 company) is getting out of retiree health insurance for Medicare eligible retirees as of 2015.

We do get a MegaCorp furnished HSA account. The retiree gets a set $ amount and the non-working spouse gets about half the $. We now have the opportunity to find and pay for our own insurance.

Live Free 09-08-2014 06:13 PM

Just read the signature line on the form provided by the firm that will be running this program for DH's company.

"By signing below I give permission for my healthcare provider to send my results to [firm running program]. This information may be shared with a third party, such as another wellness vendor, health consultant or health insurer for the sole purpose of offering me or completing for me other wellness programming or incentive administration."

Great! I'm not just sharing all my personal info (name, address, DOB, blood work results, other health information) with one company - but also with other third parties. And those third parties may want to offer me other wellness programming.

You know, it used to be we only had to compromise our SSN, credit card numbers, mortgage information, and a google street view of our property. Now we get to compromise our personal health information, too. I wonder if I'll start getting phone solicitations for wellness programs.

iac1003 09-08-2014 06:41 PM

Tired of company butting into our healthcare...
 
I feel your pain.

Two years ago my company (small, but the largest in its field) asked us to do biometric screening and if we didn't do so our premiums would be higher. My lab values are none of my company's business. I chose not to participate. It's not the government, it's unintelligent HR people making medical decisions in order to keep health premium costs down.

Last year they offered a choice of the regular PPO plan or an HD with HSA plan.

Next year it will probably be the HD HSA plan alone. I was planning to ER in 4/2015 and go on to COBRA in the PPO. But since our benefit year starts in July, and one can't contribute to an HSA if on COBRA, I am out of luck. Not that many MDs here in Austin are taking ACA or new Medicare patients so it will be hard to find physicians who will treat me. I might be able to sneak into someone's primary care practice because I am an MD and would choose someone I know. Otherwise I and probably others will be out of luck.


Sent from my iPhone using Early Retirement Forum

pb4uski 09-08-2014 06:49 PM

So just forgo the $500 company contribution.

Bestwifeever 09-08-2014 06:53 PM

DH's company tried this maybe ten years ago (he left six years ago and it was well before that) and backed off really quickly.

I imagine in ten more years you might be wishing you could participate in something like this in a megacorp cheap health insurance plan....

Lcountz 09-08-2014 07:01 PM

I am SO GLAD I'm retired and GONE from Megacorp.

photoguy 09-08-2014 07:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1491212)
Two years ago, my DH's company started charging an extra $1K/yr for working spouses that could obtain insurance at their own firm. I understand why my DH's company (a Fortune 50 company) does this, but personally, I feel like we are being penalized for me being a working spouse. His co-workers have stay-at-home wives and they are paying less than we are. My own corporate insurance is VERY expensive, so even with the $1K premium it is far cheaper for our family to go with his insurance.

There are always people who come out better or worse under company benefits. Economically I think it is sub-optimal (and somewhat unfair) and in my dreams, I envision a world where companies would just give all workers cash-value of benefits.

For me, my pet peeve around this was maternity leave/education benefits. At a former company mothers would get 6 months paid leave. As a couple with no-kids we get nothing. At my wife's company they would pay up to $20k/year/child for college (with no limit on kids). So compared to if we had two children we are out probably close to $400k in benefits. However there's no point getting mad or angry about this -- it's just not productive and will only leave you bitter.

Quote:

Also, two years ago, they went to an HSA/high deductible plan and premiums went up significantly. For a young family with no health issues, this might be a great option, as the HSA can build up over time. For us, however, we have a child with significant health care needs and we pretty much hit our max out of pocket pretty quickly and drain the HSA each year. We are paying nearly $13K/yr between premiums and hitting max out of pocket.
If you are hitting max out of pocket every year, I imagine that your net cost is far higher to the company than for other workers who don't have family members with chronic conditions. So you can still consider yourself a benefits winner.



Quote:

Now, this week in the mail, we get the news that the company's "contribution" is contingent on both the employee and the employee's spouse having a "biometric screening" and "health risk assessment". These are not to be done under our health insurance company, but with some other company (at a subcontracted lab or you can have your own doctor complete the form, but the exam is on our own dime). Based on the results of the screenings, this company will contact the employee and employee's spouse with a health action plan and will offer up smoking cessation, weight management programs, fitness programs, walk challenges, nutrition education, etc. I am certain his company views this as a "benefit". I view it as a hassle and yet another invasion of privacy.
I wouldn't like this either. But at the same time, we want to reduce healthcare costs and this could be a step in the right direction. Consider the alternative: if the company doesn't do this, overall healthcare costs will increase and they will foist more of that on the employees.

Quote:

Of course we do not have to participate in this "voluntary" program. But with the usual significant increases in our health insurance premiums, we need to do this to help offset the never ending rate increases and continue to get the company contribution.
Just like you, the company is trying to control their own costs (and also limit what gets passed to their employees).

Quote:

I feel like DH's company could have mailed out a post card each quarter with offerings for free health programs (smoking cessation, etc.) and not tied it to money. They don't need to incentivize me. I have my own health action plan, doctor-approved, and I'm happy with it. I don't need some unknown "health incentive" company monitoring my blood work, my health, my life.
Perhaps you don't need this incentive but I bet many of your co-workers would do nothing without this incentive money.

Quote:

Given that DH's company is a large employer, I'm guessing this is where health care is heading in corporate America. Your employer is also now your health babysitter. >:(
Yeah I think tying healthcare to employment is terrible.

rodi 09-08-2014 07:28 PM

I worked for a very large megacorp. They started this about 8 or 9 years ago. At first it was discounts on the health plans managed by Blue Cross... if you had Kaiser Permanente HMO you didn't need to comply. The tests included weight, lipid panel, etc. Then they added a questionaire that everyone had to do - even the HMO folks... You had to fill in your height and weight - but everything else was optional.... It reported whether you were fat or not at the end of the questionaire. So... yeah, I had my employer telling my I was fat. (I knew this - but hey, salt in the wound.)

This kept getting more and more invasive... more required questions, shared with more people.

It went away when my division was sold to another mini-corp. (Much smaller than megacorp)... But our insurance premiums went up significantly, for less coverage.

I've always had issue with companies that have that requirement about spousal coverage. My husband has *never* worked for a company with decent premiums... so he's been on my coverage since we got married. I'd be pissed if they charged more because we declined paying 3x as much for worse coverage, through his company.

Senator 09-08-2014 08:05 PM

My company started charging an extra $25 per person that smokes, per paycheck (2x a month). It's on the honor system at this point.

ProspectiveBum 09-08-2014 09:05 PM

My employers (started a new job this year) have done this for the last 3 years. I personally consider it something of a benefit, since the health screening is done at my employer's office, and it saves me having to visit my PCP for a physical and bloodwork. I know that many co-workers REALLY didn't like what they viewed as an invasion of privacy, but it didn't bother me.

W2R 09-08-2014 09:08 PM

Live Free, that is awful. I don't know what to say. You have every reason to be upset. :(

ERhoosier 09-08-2014 10:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by youbet (Post 1491218)
Clearly, your DH's company should not offer company subsidized health insurance, period. They should remove it from the offered compensation package and simply pay whatever cash it takes to recruit and retain qualified employees without health insurance. Employees can purchase health insurance on the open market using the ACA.

Separating employment from health insurance is what I see as the main benefit of the ACA and I hope to see employers, especially government employers, stop offering health insurance in the future.


Agree, HOWEVER the individual should have the same tax advantaged status for HI that is currently offered to employers (i.e. paying with pre-tax vs after-tax $$). Then HI could be truly untied from employment. Of course, as the latest issue of Barron's pointed out, one could currently untie their HI from employment by simply remaining unemployed and get their HI from ACA with subsidies.

Lancelot 09-08-2014 11:08 PM

^ +1

I agree that health insurance needs to be decoupled from employment. I further agree that individuals purchasing their health insurance should receive the same tax advantages that companies do.

I can see both sides of the argument, companies are seeking to control costs and employees protest against intrusive testing and ever changing copayment and premium sharing.

As consumers of auto and home owners/renters insurance -where we pay the premiums- we accept higher deductibles and other restrictions to reduce cost. Isn't it rational for employers to act the same way?

foxfirev5 09-09-2014 05:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ProspectiveBum (Post 1491339)
My employers (started a new job this year) have done this for the last 3 years. I personally consider it something of a benefit, since the health screening is done at my employer's office, and it saves me having to visit my PCP for a physical and bloodwork. I know that many co-workers REALLY didn't like what they viewed as an invasion of privacy, but it didn't bother me.

I really don't think the company screening is a substitute for an annual physical at your Dr's office.

Midpack 09-09-2014 06:49 AM

Decoupling does seem to be an essential first step.

I can understand the frustration, but you can't complain about the cost of health care and at the same time complain about the company's efforts to fight cost increases. While working I was exposed first hand to employee complaints/expectations AND to managing cases/costs/regulations - there are two valid sides to the debate. Most (not all) company's that offer health care benefits (a legacy for most) absorb a far greater portion of health care expenses than do employees themselves. Too many employees are mindfully ignorant of health care costs and what a maddening system we have in the US (it's not a system at all, it's an antiquated hodgepodge with regulations that only make it more difficult for patients and providers).

The root of the problem is the cost of health care in the US, about double that of every other country in the world. When we (consumers, voters) attack the causes for the high cost of health care in the US (discussed at length in many other threads), company's won't be caught in the middle trying to deal with health care.

"We" shouldn't be surprised when a company's efforts to rein in health care costs, to the benefit of employees, are sometimes misguided. I can assure you your company would rather not deal with health care, something way outside their core competency for most companies.

GalaxyBoy 09-09-2014 08:14 AM

The MegaCorp I w*rk for started this a few years ago. The first year, the benefit of participating was minimal. The next year, the benefit was more significant (lower co-pays, etc.), and they've hinted that next year if you don't participate you'll be totally screwed.

But the thing is, the first year participation was a more significant effort, such as mandatory participation in a weight loss program, etc. This year, to qualify for next year's benefit, it was totally BS. Sure, you had to have a biometric screening either at work by a third-party provider, or by your own doctor (I got mine as part of my yearly, free, physical). Then you had to either watch a short video or sign up for an account on a website that provides access to an MD 24/7. Finally, you had to either participate in a wellness program or simply participate in any number of community programs (blood donation, food bank volunteering, running a marathon, etc.). Actually, you didn't have to really do that you just had to say you did.

I'm not sure how those actions improve my health or lower MegaCorp's premiums, but I did it. A new fact of life, it seems.

Regarding premiums for family members, that's just not right. I worked for a couple of firms who simply paid 100% of the premium for the employee, but 0% for any family members. One could purchase the family coverage but at the full price. Only fair, IMHO, as otherwise a company pays employees with dependents more than those without, who do the exact same work.

MRG 09-09-2014 08:37 AM

The Megacorp I retired from started doing this 3 years ago. Each year there are more tests and fewer rewards. I had to go by the rumors this year as I have gone to an ACA policy.

Here's the odd thing, Megacorp is self insured. There's a insurance company that front ends mega, but mega pay all costs. Someone from the insurance company apparently sold mega on the notion these programs save money. Maybe they do?

athena53 09-09-2014 09:15 AM

Photoguy and midpack made some great points that I won't repeat here. I approach this issue from multiple points of view since I'm a retired actuary (property-casualty, not health) and had one of these Wellness plans at my last employer, along with an HDHP. In my case it was a no-brainer; I'm blessed with excellent health and my diet and exercise habits keep me out of doctors' offices except for preventative screenings and the occasional case of poison ivy. I racked up enough points in the program that I was able to cash them in for $430 in Amazon credits before I resigned.

First of all, I'd be as upset as you are about the employer requiring that a spouse who's not insured under the plan get their health screening. It's easy for me to argue that if the employer has a stake in your health care costs, they can compel participation, but in your case, it makes no sense. And of course you can't raise a stink because it might reflect badly on your husband.

I'm a bit skeptical of wellness programs. My employer did a thorough analysis of the healthcare costs of those who were "engaged" (basically racked up enough brownie points in the program through on-line courses on nutrition, regular checkups, screening, workouts uploaded from devices such as pedometers and heart rate monitors, etc.) vs. those who weren't. They were lower for those who were engaged, but what does that mean? Wouldn't the people with the worst issues (excess weight they can't lose, serious conditions that interfere with regular exercise) be more prevalent in the "non-engaged" group? In a similar program in a nearby major municipality, the activities were less well-monitored and employees were getting large-denomination gift cards for participation in Ironman triathlons and marathons- by their 3-year olds. Oops.

On the privacy issue- your concern is well-justified. FitBit, a manufacturer of one of the devices accepted by my employer's program, has announced that they will stop selling user's data to marketers. We really need more regulation and disclosure about what happens to your workout data after you upload it.

Having said that- there are tons of people walking around with conditions that are manageable with diet and exercise. If we can get them feeling better without doctor's visits, medication and surgery, we all win.

ERhoosier 09-09-2014 09:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by foxfirev5 (Post 1491398)
I really don't think the company screening is a substitute for an annual physical at your Dr's office.

Very true, although for far too many these company screenings are the 1st or only health eval's they get. Sad fact is many folks just don't go for periodic physicals (even when covered by insurance). "Silent" conditions like high blood pressure & diabetes can go untreated for years until major complications happen, many of which could have been prevented. That's the big reason these programs save the companies $$$ in the long run (decreased overall HC costs, sick leaves, disabilities, etc.). Let's face it, if a Megacorp already had a health-conscious employee base then spending the $$ on these screenings would be a waste. This is one case where the cost-savings of Megacorp can also be in the best interest of the employee (improved health, better job security, even possibly more $$ for raises/profit sharing).

BTW- I do not see the loss of privacy issue. Employee privacy is already very limited. Companies (at least great majority which self-fund their benefits plans) already have a darn good idea of the overall health status of you (& family) via HI cost claims data.

Telly 09-09-2014 09:56 AM

Health care sure has changed over my (previous) working lifetime.

When I started in a professional position at a company in the 1970s, there were no healthcare premiums for the employee or spouse/family. Healthcare was a benefit, "free". Seems incredible now! Did that really happen?!

Co. was bought by a Fortune 500 Megacorp, still all free for a bit, then had to pay a premium for spouse and family, but employee was still free. Then employee had a "nominal cost" premium. Then all the premiums slowly went up and up, then picking up speed no matter what the Megacorp.

I wonder what really changed in healthcare from the 1970's. Yeah, I know about the $$ new machines, the $$ new drugs, etc. etc., but I wonder if it was more "acceptable" to die back then. I occasionally ponder this. Is it "medicine", or lawsuit avoidance? Hmm, I don't know.

athena53 09-09-2014 10:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ERhoosier (Post 1491442)
Very true, although for far too many these company screenings are the 1st or only health eval's they get. Sad fact is many folks just don't go for periodic physicals (even when covered by insurance). "Silent" conditions like high blood pressure & diabetes can go untreated for years until major complications happen, many of which could have been prevented. That's the big reason these programs save the companies $$$ in the long run (decreased overall HC costs, sick leaves, disabilities, etc.).

I stayed out of doctors' offices for 10 years (approx. ages 42-52)- just went for regular mammograms. A Doc in the Box handled the poison ivy cases I mentioned earlier and a travel medicine clinic handled immunizations when I traveled to India. I had very good insurance. I just didn't want to waste time in doctors' offices. My regular blood donations let me know that my blood pressure was (and still is) enviably low. I average about one sick day every 2 years.

I finally went back after my mother's brush with breast cancer (a treatable case and she's fine), realizing that after a certain age you can't assume everything is fine just because you feel good. First thing the doc prescribes statins for my borderline high cholesterol. Within 6 months I had tendonitis so bad I couldn't eat with my right hand- raising a spoon to my mouth hurt too badly. I threw the darn pills away. The tendonitis is 95% gone. Saturday I'm scheduled for the "short" (36 miles!) portion of the MS Bike Ride. I'm still not convinced of the link between heart disease and cholesterol levels and will not take harmful meds just to correct an "abnormal" lab result. I still get regular checkups (just had bloodwork drawn this AM), but will not take meds for my cholesterol no matter what it is.

Sometimes going to the doctor creates more problems than it solves.

Chuckanut 09-09-2014 10:41 AM

I can understand the distaste of having to give out so much personal information to organizations because our employer wants us to. It is a by product of getting health insurance through work. That really needs to end or at least be reduced to more simple benefit like "We will give you a $3000 a year voucher to help pay for health insurance. After that it's your choice about the policy you purchase and where you get your care."

I doubt of most employers want to be in the business of providing health care to their employees.

Sue J 09-09-2014 10:44 AM

When we had DHs employer coverage they had a lot of preventative and chronic condition wellness plan incentives. It was all voluntary and the incentives were quite nice. I never felt it was intrusive. I never thought about if the info was kept private. Hmmm.

What the OP is describing is quite different. I don't blame you for feeling the need to rant.

rodi 09-09-2014 11:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Midpack (Post 1491407)
Too many employees are mindfully ignorant of health care costs and what a maddening system we have in the US (it's not a system at all, it's an antiquated hodgepodge with regulations that only make it more difficult for patients and providers).

As employee contributions to healthcare started rising by major leaps and bounds I started culling COBRA data from the internal website, year by year. That allowed me to look at what the total cost of the insurance was (employer and employee portion of the premiums). I could then look to see if the employee contribution was increasing as a percentage. No surprise, it was.

I was fortunate, and recognized it, that the employer was still paying a significant percentage - it went from 80% employer paid, to about 70% employer paid... But the cost sharing on the price increases definitely skewed to have the employer paying a greater share.

Cobra payment info was also a metric I tracked for years as part of my early retirement budget... a concrete number I could use to plug in my budget for healthcare. Maybe for that reason I was more in tune with what the total cost was, vs just the employee contribution.

BBQ-Nut 09-18-2014 01:40 PM

Like the auto insurance co. would like everyone to have monitoring devices installed in cars -(under their explanation that it will reduce premiums) - just wait for the health ins cos. to require 'implants' to monitor exactly how much you exercise, eat, drink....you know - to keep premiums down.

Htown Harry 09-18-2014 06:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by youbet (Post 1491218)
Separating employment from health insurance is what I see as the main benefit of the ACA and I hope to see employers, especially government employers, stop offering health insurance in the future.

"Especially" government employers? Why?

SumDay 09-18-2014 06:45 PM

Quote:

I can understand the frustration, but you can't complain about the cost of health care and at the same time complain about the company's efforts to fight cost increases.
+1. Exactly. The less the spend on health care, the more money they have for the bonus pool. I'd rather get a big fat bonus check. Plus, it has pushed DH into watching his cholesterol, diet, etc., without me nagging at him. My megacorp is doing it for me. :) Thank you megacorp. I only have three more years, and then I'll have to resume this duty.

Walt34 09-18-2014 10:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chuckanut (Post 1491475)
That really needs to end or at least be reduced to more simple benefit like "We will give you a $3000 a year voucher to help pay for health insurance. After that it's your choice about the policy you purchase and where you get your care."

One post-retirement employer I had did exactly that or close enough. Instead of health insurance, we were paid directly $3.31 an hour for "health & welfare" that was to be used for health insurance if you wanted/needed it and for beer or whatever if you didn't. This was required by the federal contract.

Since I and many others already had health insurance from previous employers we bought "beer or whatever" with it.

clifp 09-18-2014 10:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Midpack (Post 1491407)
Decoupling does seem to be an essential first step.

I can understand the frustration, but you can't complain about the cost of health care and at the same time complain about the company's efforts to fight cost increases. While working I was exposed first hand to employee complaints/expectations AND to managing cases/costs/regulations - there are two valid sides to the debate. Most (not all) company's that offer health care benefits (a legacy for most) absorb a far greater portion of health care expenses than do employees themselves. Too many employees are mindfully ignorant of health care costs and what a maddening system we have in the US (it's not a system at all, it's an antiquated hodgepodge with regulations that only make it more difficult for patients and providers).

The root of the problem is the cost of health care in the US, about double that of every other country in the world. When we (consumers, voters) attack the causes for the high cost of health care in the US (discussed at length in many other threads), company's won't be caught in the middle trying to deal with health care.

"We" shouldn't be surprised when a company's efforts to rein in health care costs, to the benefit of employees, are sometimes misguided. I can assure you your company would rather not deal with health care, something way outside their core competency for most companies.


I completely agree the first step is to decouple healthcare with unemployment. The most important thing I got out of the healthcare debate is that there just isn't a silver bullet solution to controlling health care in the country.

A huge problem is that payers and beneficiaries not only have wildly different incentives, in many case they don't even know who the ultimate persons is who writes the check. I don't know for years that my Megacorp was self funded for insurance. It turns out that most Fortune 500 firm are, and there is a big business called captive insurance. So ultimately if your lifestyle results in lung cancer or type two diabetes the cost to pay for the treatment means lower profits for them.

Now as part owner of your megacorp, I like to see higher profits, which generally leads to higher dividends, which means more income for me. :dance:
So while I am sympathetic the hassle involved, to be honest a big part of me is applauding their efforts.

Obviously this is only helpful if these incentives work to reduce costs. Financial incentive do change behavior but it is far from foolproof. A $1,000 maybe enough to convince Joe to stop smoking but it may take $10K for Jill, and you could offer Bill $1 million and still smoke 3 packs/day. I invested in one company developing technology to help reduce/control health care cost and seen presentation by a dozen others. I know companies are struggling to find what works.

The only good thing about linking insurance to employment is that at least companies have incentive to reduce cost.

Dixie19 09-19-2014 06:56 AM

Tired of company butting into our healthcare...
 
The sleeper cases these biometric screenings uncover truly saves people's lives. And yes, they save the employer money (and this trickles down to the employee premiums) I understand how distrusting employees are when change is implemented, and took a lot of verbal abuse. I even received a scathing letter from a (overweight) paralegal calling participating being linked to premiums extortion. Of course I shared the letter with the CEO. But truly, a ridiculous percent of us don't get proper preventive care, even when it's covered at 100%. I can say, as the employer, I did not receive, nor care to receive, individualized data on my employees. Just stats from BCBS on who participated so I could properly reduce their premiums. I still agree this program, and the whole current state of our healthcare system, is a mess. That's one reason I retired at 53. But nothing was as satisfying as the 4 people who thanked me for a program that helped them get early intervention for serious life threatening conditions they would have otherwise not discovered.


Benefits Mgr in Texas

rodi 09-19-2014 08:00 AM

Marketplace (NPR program) had a piece on yesterday about how big these wellness programs are and that they don't really improve heatlh.

It's a 6 billion dollar industry.

Pros
- rates for employers are being held in check.

Cons
- some of that is because rates for employees are going up because they flunk the wellness program and had increased premiums
- they haven't been shown to improve employee heath.

From the podcast blurb:
Quote:

"What's really happening in many instances is that costs are getting shifted to employees, whether it's because they don't meet certain goals or they don't conform in certain ways," she says. "Healthcare costs are going down for companies, but not so much for individuals and families."

And they're not having any lasting effects on their health, either, she adds.

"All these incentives, all these hurdles, greatly increase the cost of testing employees. So these things are more costly than you might think."
The shortcomings of the corporate wellness program | Marketplace.org

rodi 09-19-2014 08:04 AM

dup.

sengsational 09-19-2014 08:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SumDay (Post 1495038)
Quote:

I can understand the frustration, but you can't complain about the cost of health care and at the same time complain about the company's efforts to fight cost increases.
+1. Exactly. The less the spend on health care, the more money they have for the bonus pool. I'd rather get a big fat bonus check. Plus, it has pushed DH into watching his cholesterol, diet, etc., without me nagging at him. My megacorp is doing it for me. :) Thank you megacorp. I only have three more years, and then I'll have to resume this duty.

Well, it might depend on HOW they are attempting to save money. The biometric screening is a method where there is a little money saved and the medical industrial complex maintains or enhances their profits (and protects their inefficiencies). What if it were required that health outcomes be public, reasonable prices that people actually pay were public, so people could actually shop effectively? That would be the kind of cost savings that would make a difference, not this piddly little shell game with biometric screening.

Dixie19 09-19-2014 08:45 AM

As a preferred employer in a competitive market, we were committed to paying no less than 85% of the health care costs, and we kept that commitment. The last two years I was there, we absorbed the premium cost increases as a gesture of goodwill. It's a really tough task and not all employers are just trying to get by by with as little expense as possible, especially if you want to keep a valued technical workforce.

unno2002 09-20-2014 11:33 PM

By the tax code, the politicians in the US, long ago, gave employers control over whatever health insurance (disease/injury management insurance) that was offered to their employees. What would make more logic would be individuals being able to deduct from their tax filings their chosen insurance premiums.

Unpaintedhuffhines 09-21-2014 09:15 AM

With the explosion in wearable technology (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, etc.), we are only a few steps away from insurance companies having access to all of our health data. Would you want to save $1,500 a year if you allowed your health insurance company to know the number of steps you took, your weight, body fat percentage and how many days a week you had at least 30 minutes of cardio?

Midpack 09-21-2014 09:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unpaintedhuffhines (Post 1495709)
With the explosion in wearable technology (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, etc.), we are only a few steps away from insurance companies having access to all of our health data. Would you want to save $1,500 a year if you allowed your health insurance company to know the number of steps you took, your weight, body fat percentage and how many days a week you had at least 30 minutes of cardio?

I'd make that deal for a $1500 discount, but it would have to start as a voluntary program, and obviously only healthy individuals would "subscribe" - so we end up with two (another) tiers. Why shouldn't people who are able/make the effort to maintain their health reap some benefit? There will undoubtedly be reasonable people on both sides of this issue.

BBQ-Nut 09-21-2014 09:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unpaintedhuffhines (Post 1495709)
With the explosion in wearable technology (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, etc.), we are only a few steps away from insurance companies having access to all of our health data. Would you want to save $1,500 a year if you allowed your health insurance company to know the number of steps you took, your weight, body fat percentage and how many days a week you had at least 30 minutes of cardio?

No, because they will want more lifestyle information as well - and that is too invasive to my privacy....imho, of course.

Walt34 09-22-2014 04:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Midpack (Post 1495715)
I'd make that deal for a $1500 discount, but it would have to start as a voluntary program, and obviously only healthy individuals would "subscribe" - so we end up with two (another) tiers.

Quote:

Originally Posted by BBQ-Nut (Post 1495725)
No, because they will want more lifestyle information as well - and that is too invasive to my privacy....imho, of course.

I'd think about it but like BBQ-Nut I'd be very wary of TMI to the insurance industry. Of course I'm one of those living a healthy lifestyle so would benefit the most. There were times when I didn't.

Live Free 09-22-2014 04:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dixie19 (Post 1495145)
The sleeper cases these biometric screenings uncover truly saves people's lives. And yes, they save the employer money (and this trickles down to the employee premiums) I understand how distrusting employees are when change is implemented, and took a lot of verbal abuse. I even received a scathing letter from a (overweight) paralegal calling participating being linked to premiums extortion. Of course I shared the letter with the CEO. But truly, a ridiculous percent of us don't get proper preventive care, even when it's covered at 100%. I can say, as the employer, I did not receive, nor care to receive, individualized data on my employees. Just stats from BCBS on who participated so I could properly reduce their premiums. I still agree this program, and the whole current state of our healthcare system, is a mess. That's one reason I retired at 53. But nothing was as satisfying as the 4 people who thanked me for a program that helped them get early intervention for serious life threatening conditions they would have otherwise not discovered.

I appreciate this. But couldn't employers just then tie their contribution to getting a wellness check-up with their own doctor - which is an already covered expense? Why the need to hire some third party vendor that isn't the insurance company or a personal doctor? What about the wellness walking program incentive prescribed by this biometric firm to an overweight diabetic that results in a heart attack? You know the old adage before starting an exercise program is to consult with your doctor. Not a third party vendor who only knows your height/weight and bloodwork results but never bothered to ask about if you suffer from intermittent chest pains, tingling feet, or some other symptom that would have a medical doctor digging more deeply into ones health.

You know, there are unhealthy people that absolutely should not participate in any wellness program that isn't closely monitored by their physician.

M Paquette 09-22-2014 05:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Walt34 (Post 1496124)
I'd think about it but like BBQ-Nut I'd be very wary of TMI to the insurance industry. Of course I'm one of those living a healthy lifestyle so would benefit the most. There were times when I didn't.

This. MIB Group (formerly Medical Information Bureau) is still around, and still in operation, sharing data between member insurers under the insurance anti-trust exemption. Should some groups get their wish and insurers are able to return to denying pre-existing condition coverage or cancelling policies on errata (rather than fraud), folks may regret signing away this information.

Be careful, and consider potential consequences against perceived benefits.

Live Free 09-23-2014 10:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Unpaintedhuffhines (Post 1495709)
With the explosion in wearable technology (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, etc.), we are only a few steps away from insurance companies having access to all of our health data.

Well I actually do have one friend that puts her pedometer on her young dog's collar to rack up steps each day. Sends the dog out with the kids and gets all kinds of steps added on her pedometer. Her company gives out gift cards to employees that hit a certain average (I think 10K steps per day) each month.

I'm sure she is not the only one that does this. Obviously it is not helping her health -- but unless her company goes to ankle police bracelets as pedometers...

BBQ-Nut 09-23-2014 10:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1496341)
Well I actually do have one friend that puts her pedometer on her young dog's collar to rack up steps each day. Sends the dog out with the kids and gets all kinds of steps added on her pedometer. Her company gives out gift cards to employees that hit a certain average (I think 10K steps per day) each month.

I'm sure she is not the only one that does this. Obviously it is not helping her health -- but unless her company goes to ankle police bracelets as pedometers...

It won't be ankle bracelets....wait for voluntary then mandatory 'implants'.

rodi 09-23-2014 11:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1496138)
I appreciate this. But couldn't employers just then tie their contribution to getting a wellness check-up with their own doctor - which is an already covered expense? Why the need to hire some third party vendor that isn't the insurance company or a personal doctor? What about the wellness walking program incentive prescribed by this biometric firm to an overweight diabetic that results in a heart attack? You know the old adage before starting an exercise program is to consult with your doctor. Not a third party vendor who only knows your height/weight and bloodwork results but never bothered to ask about if you suffer from intermittent chest pains, tingling feet, or some other symptom that would have a medical doctor digging more deeply into ones health.

You know, there are unhealthy people that absolutely should not participate in any wellness program that isn't closely monitored by their physician.

I agree with you - and so does the data in the article I linked previously.

This 3rd party "wellness" industry that corporations hire is $6 Billion a year - in addition to the premiums they're already paying. So it's a big business.

From the article I previously linked - quoting Nancy Koehn of Harvard Business School:
Quote:

And they're not having any lasting effects on their health, either, she adds.

"All these incentives, all these hurdles, greatly increase the cost of testing employees. So these things are more costly than you might think."
Here's the link to the article and podcast
The shortcomings of the corporate wellness program | Marketplace.org

Live Free 09-23-2014 11:39 AM

That is an interesting article Rodi. The ending where Ms. Koehn suggests that there is a darker undertone to these programs really resonates with me. The corporate big brother controlling your life feeling.

I also agree that this is HR folks in corporate america patting themselves on the back for coming up with incentive programs (or maybe not incentives but sometimes big pointy sticks) that do very little in improving long term health but increase employee costs.

I'm guessing that most smokers already know and have been told by their doctor to quit smoking. Smoking cessation programs are already a covered benefit under our health insurance.

Overweight people I am certain know that they are fat and should lose weight to be healthy. Guess what? I just checked and the corporate health insurance covers nutrition programs and has a TON of health care tools related to exercise and weight management available to members for FREE.

I think corporate america is being duped by a third party wellness industry into paying for something they already pay for through their primary health insurance company.

athena53 09-23-2014 12:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1496138)
You know, there are unhealthy people that absolutely should not participate in any wellness program that isn't closely monitored by their physician.

The program my employer had allowed for modified goals based on what your physician thought appropriate. DH is 76, on prescriptions that depress his appetite, he has a creaky back (currently getting PT for it), and has a balance issue due to a couple of subdural hematomas he got from falls. No, he should NOT be out bicycling with me. He does, however, wear a pedometer even though we're no longer part of the program and is working on exercises to improve his balance and strengthen his back muscles. Nearly every health issue can be improved with changes to diet and exercise, but I do agree that a doctor needs to be involved for major problems. The alternative- resigning yourself to life on the couch with a bag of Cheetos nearby and an army of prescription bottles- isn't good for anyone.

powerplay 10-03-2014 12:32 PM

Here is an article about an employee who chose not to participate in the company wellness plan and was later fired for refusing. A lawsuit was filed by USEEOC over the issue. These events took place in 2009 and the lawsuit apparently just a couple months ago. It will be interesting to see what happens.

First Wellness Program Firing Suit Filed by U.S. Agency - Bloomberg

pb4uski 10-03-2014 02:13 PM

That's just not right. I'm ok with employer's providing incentives and perhaps even charging a bit less for those who participate, but to fire someone for refusing to participate doesn't sit well with me - I wonder if there is more to the story than what we are being told.

powerplay 10-03-2014 03:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pb4uski (Post 1499821)
That's just not right. I'm ok with employer's providing incentives and perhaps even charging a bit less for those who participate, but to fire someone for refusing to participate doesn't sit well with me - I wonder if there is more to the story than what we are being told.

I think there is usually more to the story. Perhaps there will be more coverage on the story as the lawsuit unfolds.

Live Free 10-03-2014 03:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by powerplay (Post 1499786)
Here is an article about an employee who chose not to participate in the company wellness plan and was later fired for refusing. A lawsuit was filed by USEEOC over the issue. These events took place in 2009 and the lawsuit apparently just a couple months ago. It will be interesting to see what happens.

First Wellness Program Firing Suit Filed by U.S. Agency - Bloomberg

Not surprised to read this at all. I can't believe I'm the only one who finds giving out my medical information to some "wellness firm" that requires that I sign a form that lets them give that information to other parties (not my doctor) to be stupid, an invasion of my privacy, and a total PIA. I also firmly believe this will only increase health care costs for employees and have little to no long term health benefits.

The link between employment and health insurance cannot end soon enough.

travelover 10-03-2014 03:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1499873)
.............The link between employment and health insurance cannot end soon enough.

It's worse than that. I've been retired 7 years and my former employer is still picking up 90% of my healthcare costs.

And yes, I fill out a wellness form and have a free annual physical.

palomalou 10-09-2014 05:56 PM

I learned, after the first year of Big Brother insurance--don't answer the questions honestly, just answer them with what will make them leave you alone. (I don't mean falsify the biometric sort of thing, but the lengthy self-evaluation--rate your stress level on a scale of...blah, blah blah.) They decided I had "stress"--took care of that one, I retired! Once that happened, taking care of self became much easier.

travelover 10-09-2014 06:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by palomalou (Post 1501978)
I learned, after the first year of Big Brother insurance--don't answer the questions honestly, just answer them with what will make them leave you alone. (I don't mean falsify the biometric sort of thing, but the lengthy self-evaluation--rate your stress level on a scale of...blah, blah blah.) They decided I had "stress"--took care of that one, I retired! Once that happened, taking care of self became much easier.

+1 . I give the answers they want to hear. The program is set up to compare last year's lies answers to your latest answers. I forgot one of the answers and fell to a 99 from a 100 and was admonished because I was degrading year over year. :laugh:

rodi 10-09-2014 07:07 PM

My former employer offered an insurance that was self funded, but sitting on top of insurance by BCBS (BCBS network). In a few geographic locations they also offered Kaiser Permanente - but not the corporate headquarters. Pretty much only the CA sites had Kaiser. The majority of US employees were in Illinois and Pennsylvania.

The wellness promotions were pushed corporate wide- but you had to be in the BCBS plan to access them. For example: they offered free onsight flu shots - but only if you had that flavor of insurance. They offered free onsight lipid panel screening - but only if you had that insurance. The required EVERYONE to take the wellness surveys - but only offered discounts to those in the more prevalent insurance provider.

I didn't see any advantage at all, to me, for the stuff they were pushing... other than it was money that wasn't going to my annual bonus.

They tauted this as employee benefits - rah-rah, aren't they great.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1499873)
Not surprised to read this at all. I can't believe I'm the only one who finds giving out my medical information to some "wellness firm" that requires that I sign a form that lets them give that information to other parties (not my doctor) to be stupid, an invasion of my privacy, and a total PIA. I also firmly believe this will only increase health care costs for employees and have little to no long term health benefits.

The link between employment and health insurance cannot end soon enough.

I linked an NPR story early in this thread about this. The wellness industry is well liked by corporations. Polls show that 80% of corporations that use wellness services for their employees like it. - But these programs do not statistically reduce mortality or improve health. It's a case where we need some bean counter to wake up the HR department that the money isn't well utilized. Perhaps reducing the employee's portion of the insurance premium would be a better use of the $.

Live Free 10-09-2014 07:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rodi (Post 1502005)
Perhaps reducing the employee's portion of the insurance premium would be a better use of the $.

Yep. I'm sure it would improve my (mental) health if they used the money for this instead. :coolsmiley:

Live Free 12-03-2014 12:41 PM

Government Says Bosses Can't Force Workers To Get Health Tests : Shots - Health News : NPR

Above is a link to another lawsuit (third one) filed in October by EEOC against a firm (Honeywell in this case) and their "voluntary" wellness program.

In this case, Honeywell considers program participation "voluntary" but, according to the article, "In the Honeywell wellness program, employees and their spouses are asked to get blood drawn to test their cholesterol, glucose and nicotine use, and also have their body mass index and blood pressure measured. An employee who refuses is subject to a $500 surcharge on health insurance premiums and could lose up to $1,500 in Honeywell contributions to a health savings account. A worker and spouse are also each subject to a $1,000 tobacco surcharge if they refuse to do the screening. That means a couple could face a combined $4,000 in financial penalties."

Is that really voluntary?

In the concluding sentence of the article, "Despite employers' enthusiasm for wellness programs, "there's no good research that shows these programs actually improve health outcomes or lower employer costs," says JoAnn Volk, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms." YEP! That is believe.

This still annoys the heck out of me.

pb4uski 12-03-2014 12:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1524926)
Government Says Bosses Can't Force Workers To Get Health Tests : Shots - Health News : NPR

Above is a link to another lawsuit (third one) filed in October by EEOC against a firm (Honeywell in this case) and their "voluntary" wellness program.

In this case, Honeywell considers program participation "voluntary" but, according to the article, "In the Honeywell wellness program, employees and their spouses are asked to get blood drawn to test their cholesterol, glucose and nicotine use, and also have their body mass index and blood pressure measured. An employee who refuses is subject to a $500 surcharge on health insurance premiums and could lose up to $1,500 in Honeywell contributions to a health savings account. A worker and spouse are also each subject to a $1,000 tobacco surcharge if they refuse to do the screening. That means a couple could face a combined $4,000 in financial penalties."

Is that really voluntary?

In the concluding sentence of the article, "Despite employers' enthusiasm for wellness programs, "there's no good research that shows these programs actually improve health outcomes or lower employer costs," says JoAnn Volk, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms." YEP! That is believe.

This still annoys the heck out of me.

Would it make you feel better if they re-framed it so that non-smokers got a $1,000 discount and employees who get certain tests done annually receive up to $1,500 in HSA contributions and a $500 discount on their health insurance premiums?

I have no issue with employers providing incentives for good health choices to share with employees their health care cost savings (real or imagined).

Midpack 12-03-2014 01:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Live Free (Post 1524926)
In the concluding sentence of the article, "Despite employers' enthusiasm for wellness programs, "there's no good research that shows these programs actually improve health outcomes or lower employer costs," says JoAnn Volk, a senior research fellow at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms." YEP! That is believe.

This still annoys the heck out of me.

Quote:

Amid soaring health spending, there is growing interest in workplace disease prevention and wellness programs to improve health and lower costs. In a critical meta-analysis of the literature on costs and savings associated with such programs, we found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent. Although further exploration of the mechanisms at work and broader applicability of the findings is needed, this return on investment suggests that the wider adoption of such programs could prove beneficial for budgets and productivity as well as health outcomes.
  1. Katherine Baicker is a professor of health economics at the School of Public Health, Harvard University, in Boston, Massachusetts.
  2. David Cutler is a professor of economics at Harvard University.
  3. Zirui Song is a doctoral candidate at Harvard Medical School.

Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings

Anyone can find credible sources/studies to support a POV these days. But that alone doesn't move the ball forward for anyone either.

Employee wellness is but one of many challenges related to health care cost increases.

Healthcare costs are/have been a serious issue for decades, companies have no choice but to try to control all their costs, especially a significant expense like healthcare that has risen disproportionately for decades (based on my career experience). And health care if more expensive in the USA than any other country by a wide margin, making it an even bigger issue for US companies. Unfortunately they'll make some mistakes, but they're being forced to confront expenses from a field (sometimes completely) outside their industry areas of expertise (unless it's a healthcare provider). I can assure you, most companies would love to stay out of employee healthcare issues/costs if only they could. It would be irresponsible for them to do nothing.

Again, you can't complain about the cost of health care and at the same time complain about the company's efforts to fight cost increases.

rbmrtn 12-03-2014 02:04 PM

Group health insurance regulation are in CFR 45 part 146. Wellness programs are described in the code. There are a number of examples relating to this topic. Section 146.121 deals with discrimination for health factors

45 CFR 146.121 - Prohibiting discrimination against participants and beneficiaries based on a health factor. | LII / Legal Information Institute

See paragraph (f) for wellness programs

As I read it, they can offer a wellness programs and give discounts for participating. Participating is voluntary. They can not charge you more for a specific health factor ( like cholesterol > 200 ), they are allowed a tobacco surcharge. I don't think they can surcharge you for not participating but then you give up any discounts offered.

athena53 12-04-2014 08:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rbmrtn (Post 1524981)
They cannot charge you more for a specific health factor ( like cholesterol > 200 ), they are allowed a tobacco surcharge. I don't think they can surcharge you for not participating but then you give up any discounts offered.

There are some grey areas here, though. My former employer's plan gave a discount on the health insurance (nearly $1K/year for DH and me) if we accumulated enough points to be classified as "engaged" in the program. I think we needed 12,000 total and at least 3,000 had to come from DH. At one point I was offered 800 points if I got my total cholesterol below 200. (It's borderline high but my "good cholesterol" is very high and overall I eat healthy and exercise a lot). About the only way to reduce it would have been statins- which I tried before and they gave me tendonitis. (I do use fish oil supplements and CardioTabs.) Others who were overweight were offered mega-points for losing weight. There are other ways to get points: the blood work, exercise, taking on-line courses, etc.

Still, couldn't someone who would have been "engaged" with the extra points for lowering cholesterol or losing weight claim that they were surcharged for high cholesterol or being overweight?

Hermit 12-04-2014 09:30 AM

I don't need or want a nanny looking over me. I don't care if it is the government or a company that is forced to take its place. I never participated in the enticements offered by my company. I always felt the company having access to that information could only come to no good.

pb4uski 12-04-2014 12:20 PM

I agree that individual responsibility/accountability is important, but I don't see this issue as a company looking over anyone (though it is in the company's best interest to retain good employees and they construct certain enticements to do so).

I see it more as a company controlling its healthcare costs by sharing good experience and passing on bad experience. Let's use smoking as an example, if an employee smokes then the company's health care costs will likely be higher and they pass that on to the employee causing it through a surcharge. Conversely, if an employee agrees to regular health screening, it is likely that the company's healthcare costs will be lower and it passes on some of those savings to the employees whose behavior contribute to the savings in the form of lower premiums or better benefits.

Midpack 12-04-2014 12:33 PM

I wouldn't care about anyone else's 'wellness activities' either if we didn't have a system that subsidizes bad (health) behavior, and costs of healthcare in the US weren't completely out of line with other countries.

While there are definitely health risks beyond anyone's control, the costs associated with preventable health issues are substantial, among the highest incidence/costs health issues. Making a non-smoker subsidize the healthcare expenses of a smoker is but one. And the causes and solutions have been well known for decades.

Heart disease
Threat level: High

Why care:
As the leading cause of death in the United States, diseases of the heart take the lives of over 300,000 American men on an annual basis — that’s almost one death every minute and a half. Now, although “heart disease” is somewhat of an umbrella term, most prevention tactics apply equally across the individual diseases of the heart.
Things to avoid

• Smoking
• Alcohol (no more than two drinks per day)
• Fatty foods, specifically foods high in trans fats (beef, cheese, milk) or saturated fats (deep-fried foods, bakery goods)
• The couch
• Beer belly
• Stress
Things not to avoid
• Physical activity (at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week)
• Fruits and vegetables
• Omega-3 fatty acids (fish, flaxseed oil, walnut oil)
• Regular health checkups (blood pressure and cholesterol)

Lung cancer Threat level: High

Why care: Right behind heart disease on the male mortality charts is cancer, causing upward of 290,000 deaths a year in men. While not all cancers are preventable, lung cancer — the leading cause of death among the cancers in men — is certainly one of the most preventable.
Things to avoid
• Smoking (the sooner you stop the better)
• Secondhand smoke
• Alcohol (no more than two drinks per day)
• Workplace carcinogens
• Household asbestos and radon (both may be a problem in your home; if unsure, have your home inspected)
• Air pollution (ever consider moving?)
Things not to avoid
• Physical activity (at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week)
• Fruits and vegetables

Type 2 diabetes
Threat level: Moderate
Why care:
Although not the biggest killer in men, diabetes is still one of the leading causes of morbidity (disability of morbidity). In fact, diabetes is being called an epidemic in the United States. Why? Well, there are an estimated 23.6 million people currently living with diabetes in the States — that’s 8% of the entire population. Yep, 1 in 13 people have diabetes — right now — 90% of whom have type 2 diabetes. Thankfully, type 2 diabetes can be prevented.
Things to avoid
• The couch
• Beer belly
Things not to avoid
• A well-balanced diet
• Fruits and vegetables
• Physical activity (at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week)
• Testing for diabetes or pre-diabetes (particularly if there is a family history of diabetes)

Chronic liver disease (including cirrhosis) Threat level: Low
Why care: Chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis cause upward of 27,000 deaths in the United States, with the majority of these deaths being in men. Although this number has steadily decreased over the past few decades, there is still room for improvement considering that many causes of liver disease — alcoholism and infection with Hepatitis A or B — are preventable.
Things to avoid
• Alcohol (no more than two drinks per day)
• Binge drinking
• Unsafe alcohols (home-brewed or unlabeled)
• Beer belly
• Unprotected sex (Hep B)
• Needle sharing (Hep B)
• Sharing of other personal items such as razors or nail clippers with an infected person (Hep B)
• Raw or uncooked shellfish (Hep A)
• Excessive medication including combining certain meds (be aware of drug interactions)
Things not to avoid
• Immunizations for Hep A, particularly when traveling abroad
• Immunizations for Hep B
• Safe sex
• Proper food preparation (Hep A)
• Proper sanitation, particularly of infant diaper-changing tables and food preparation areas (Hep A)
• Hand washing before eating (Hep A)

Hermit 12-04-2014 12:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pb4uski (Post 1525368)
I agree that individual responsibility/accountability is important, but I don't see this issue as a company looking over anyone (though it is in the company's best interest to retain good employees and they construct certain enticements to do so).

I see it more as a company controlling its healthcare costs by sharing good experience and passing on bad experience. Let's use smoking as an example, if an employee smokes then the company's health care costs will likely be higher and they pass that on to the employee causing it through a surcharge. Conversely, if an employee agrees to regular health screening, it is likely that the company's healthcare costs will be lower and it passes on some of those savings to the employees whose behavior contribute to the savings in the form of lower premiums or better benefits.

I think your whole argument would go out the window if companies and the government would get out of the health care business. I'm quite sure the price of health care would also plummet. I have no issue with the government providing health care for those that cannot afford it, but providing it to everyone and then saying they have to make everyone stay in the best health to keep the costs down sure sounds like a nanny state to me.

BBQ-Nut 12-04-2014 12:52 PM

I see more and more potential for erosion of privacy and more 'control' put into entities that have no altruistic motive for a person's well being - just the bottom line.


No sir, I don't like it at all.

razztazz 12-04-2014 01:41 PM

Quote:

I see it more as a company controlling
The End

pb4uski 12-04-2014 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hermit (Post 1525379)
I think your whole argument would go out the window if companies and the government would get out of the health care business. I'm quite sure the price of health care would also plummet. I have no issue with the government providing health care for those that cannot afford it, but providing it to everyone and then saying they have to make everyone stay in the best health to keep the costs down sure sounds like a nanny state to me.

I agree with you that I would like to see health insurance divorced from employment. It was a bad idea to begin with that was the unintended consequence of governmental interference in wages and now that people change employers more it is worse.

I don't believe that anyone is saying that everyone has to stay in the best health, but what they are saying is that those who practice good health habits will get discounts and have lower healthcare costs and that those who neglect their health or just don't give a care will not get discounts so their costs will be higher. It isn't nanny state at all... it is simply a mechanism to assign personal responsibility... if someone practices bad health habits then their costs will be higher and it they have good health practices their costs will be lower because they will be given discounts to reflect the lower cost of providing insurance for healthy people. I see nothing wrong with that and those who believe in personal responsibility shouldn't either.

pb4uski 12-04-2014 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BBQ-Nut (Post 1525385)
I see more and more potential for erosion of privacy and more 'control' put into entities that have no altruistic motive for a person's well being - just the bottom line.


No sir, I don't like it at all.

Their interest in employee well being is self serving, not altruistic and they would admit to that. Employee illnesses result in less productivity, higher costs and lower profits.

Do/did you manage people? And if you did. you didn't give a rat's a$$ about their health? I managed people and cared about their health not only because of our personal relationships but also because of the disruption caused by their being out of work.

BBQ-Nut 12-04-2014 02:27 PM

I see a dangerous slope here because it won't be about rewarding 'healthy choices' it will be about penalizing lifestyle choices which are 'deemed by the powers that be' (aka the health care ins cos) to be poor choices compared to others.


What next? Genetic testing? Cost impacts on who you have relationships with or marry?


Implants to monitor your activities and diet with points deducted or rewarded for bad/good behavior?


No sir, I don't like the future of health care given these precedents.

pb4uski 12-04-2014 04:01 PM

Make sure not to forget to wear your tin foil hat. ;D

I think they will focus on incentives and disincentives for things that people can control and are likely to change healthcare costs. If you marry a smoker, then yes, you will pay more.

Midpack 12-04-2014 04:30 PM

Again, I can assure you 'companies' would LOVE to stay out of employee health care, they can't. And if it was simply profit/greed, why would they knowingly bother with the self-inflicted controversy of wellness programs and incentives? If profit was the only motive, it would be a heckuva lot easier to just pass costs and/or reduce benefits to all employees.

I watched HC expenses go up way more than CPI for decades when I was working. And many employees complained bitterly when they're health care contributions increased some years (their contributions never exceeded 17% of total health care costs. We were self-insured and insured during my years in management so I've seen both cases. And it wasn't unusual for the contribution complainers to be among the first to complain about any wellness or other initiatives no matter how benign. You can't have it both ways.

If you don't want company wellness or a nanny state, knowing we already pay double the average for all other developed countries - what would you suggest, the very costly status quo?

Clone 12-04-2014 11:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pb4uski (Post 1525410)
Their interest in employee well being is self serving, not altruistic and they would admit to that. Employee illnesses result in less productivity, higher costs and lower profits.

Yup-It makes for good talking points, good PR, and nice slogans for the posters on the walls. Yet, survey after survey, the largest employee dissatisfaction at MegaCorp dealt with work/family life balance. We could have re-written the manual to say:

'the company is willing to spend $300 extra in incentives if you complete the survey and talk to the the phone nurse (last week selling timeshares, this week promoting exercise and flu shots...). Oh, and by the way, we're going to need you to be in here Saturday. And the flights are scheduled for Sunday to run out to BF Egypt for a couple weeks. I know it's stressful, but we should be over this hump in a couple months...'

For the most part, I had good bosses. But the production date was set, and we did what it took to make the schedule. And we were paid well to make it happen.

I suspect that the corporate support of wellness programs is similar to individuals commitment to living a more healthy lifestyle. Easy to say, not too difficult to pay the membership fee to a fitness center, very difficult to actually go there and exercise on a routine basis.

pb4uski 12-04-2014 11:24 PM

Stop wining and welcome to the real world grasshopper. If you don't like it then don't let the door hit you in the a_ _ on your way out.

Tadpole 12-05-2014 08:42 AM

What accommodation is made, if any, or what price increase is imposed for people with disabilities that cannot participate in wellness programs and, through no fault of their own, cannot control certain aspects of their health profiles? Don't let the door hit ya???? Do children with asthma have to prove worthiness? I think it is nuts. Just like crowding the most needy of healthcare out of the insurance pool doesn't make sense.

Midpack 12-05-2014 08:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tadpole (Post 1525714)
What accommodation is made, if any, or what price increase is imposed for people with disabilities that cannot participate in wellness programs and, through no fault of their own, cannot control certain aspects of their health profiles? Don't let the door hit ya???? Do children with asthma have to prove worthiness? I think it is nuts. Just like crowding the most needy of healthcare out of the insurance pool doesn't make sense.

Do you have an example of any company that has implemented a wellness program based on health metrics that are clearly beyond the control of employees, you mention disabilities for example? The ones I've seen or read about focused on well known lifestyle choices (smoking, excessive alcohol, illegal drugs, poor diet, inactivity, unprotected sex, etc.) that influence preventable diseases, all thoroughly documented relationships.

It's interesting how debates form using exceptions, extremes and hypotheticals as central factors are given credibility, not only in healthcare but so many other realms.

Tadpole 12-05-2014 09:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Midpack (Post 1525721)
Do you have an example of any company that has implemented a wellness program based on health metrics that are clearly beyond the control of employees. The ones I've seen or read about focused on well known lifestyle choices that influenced preventable diseases, all thoroughly documented relationships.

I was asking a question. How could I supply my own answer? Actually two questions - how disabilities are accommodated (think can't exercise, type I diabetes, genetic disorders that affect blood chemistries, or, for family plans try prader willi).

How are disability related health potential costs handled?
How are children monitored to assure compliance in family plans where costs are shifted from one family to another?

If this doesn't happen, then that is the answer to the question.

Midpack 12-05-2014 09:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tadpole (Post 1525732)
I was asking a question. How could I supply my own answer? Actually two questions - how disabilities are accommodated (think can't exercise, type I diabetes, genetic disorders that affect blood chemistries, or, for family plans try prader willi).

How are disability related health potential costs handled?
How are children monitored to assure compliance in family plans where costs are shifted from one family to another?

If this doesn't happen, then that is the answer to the question.

And I answered by saying few if any companies would knowingly punish employees for health issues beyond their control. And if any company tried there are laws, beginning with ADA in 1990, that would prevent the practice. So it's not a central issue, relatively speaking, regarding wellness initiatives.

photoguy 12-05-2014 09:17 AM

The wellness programs I've been a part of have been mostly self-reported and participatory. E.g. have you exercised for 20min at least 3 times per week. Even walking counts for that. Or meet with a health advisor once a year, go to some nutrition seminar, etc.

Amethyst 12-05-2014 09:17 AM

Could this be a negative rephrasing of "employees who accept these health measures are granted a $500 rebate on premiums, a $1500 incentive in Honeywell contributions to an HSA, and a $1000 per spouse "no tobacco use" rebate, or potentially $4000 in annual savings."

After all, it's not as if the company is mandating people's weight, blood pressure levels and so on. I would not even have a problem with that, if it meant an additional rebate on health premiums.

(Frankly, I thought most big companies paid their employees' health premiums 100% or close to it. The defense contractors seem to pay far lower premiums and co-pays than I do).

Amethyst

razztazz 12-05-2014 09:19 AM

Quote:

And I answered by saying few if any companies would knowingly punish employees for health issues beyond their control
.

And what guarantee is there they won't/can't? And besides you've already conceded some will do it. What's to prevent it or punish them after the fact?


Quote:

And if any company tried there are laws, beginning with ADA in 1990, that would prevent the practice.
New regime can end those protections. What's the invulnerable guarunte it can't happen? Ok, so we know it can happen.

Quote:

So it's not a central issue,
What's to keep it from becoming one?

Quote:

relatively speaking
Tussy-covering-speak

razztazz 12-05-2014 09:21 AM

Quote:

After all, it's not as if the company is mandating people's weight, blood pressure levels and so on. I would not even have a problem with that, if it meant an additional rebate on health premiums.
So Marx was right? It's all about economic extortion. Thank you

pb4uski 12-05-2014 09:30 AM

Where in the world did all these tin foil hat people come from?

Midpack 12-05-2014 09:33 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Amethyst (Post 1525743)
(Frankly, I thought most big companies paid their employees' health premiums 100% or close to it. The defense contractors seem to pay far lower premiums and co-pays than I do).

I'd be surprised if many companies pay 100% of employee healthcare anymore, especially private, but I am sure there are some. Our target was employee total contributions of 20%, but we never achieved more than 17%. We could have levied increases to get to 20%, but we didn't have the heart to (I know exactly how our HC premiums, including increases, were administered each year).

Here's some broad data, and a link to a little more detail from BLS 2014. Looks like 70:30 employer/employee is a representative average, but I suspect the distribution is very, very broad.

Table 4. Medical plans: Share of premiums paid by employer and employee for family coverage

NanoSour 12-05-2014 09:56 AM

It's all a catch-22. On one hand the food industry wants up to buy as much meat & processed food as they can stuff into the grocery stores. And of course if we buy it, one would reasonably expect us to eat it leading to all the "chronic" diseases that are rapidly rising in our society. For the big pharma industry this has the benefit of putting millions of people on lifetime drug therapies and to them this is better than great.

I'll stop there or this could be a long rant. I'll end by stating IMHO this is a bad precedent and we're only at the top of the slippery slope.

M Paquette 12-05-2014 11:40 AM

Meh. Terms of employment...

You don't have to take their health insurance benefit if you find the terms onerous. Just buy an individual policy from an insurance broker. It will cost you more than the discounted and subsidized plan through an employer, but you won't have to agree to the terms and conditions that go along with the employers discounts and subsidy.

If you find other conditions of employment with a specific employer too onerous, don't be their employee. Find employment elsewhere. Start your own business. Become a consultant if that looks good. It might not be as easy as coasting in the current job, but you can take action to improve your circumstances.

It's a lot like early retirement. Just complaining or wishing won't get you there. You have to be proactive about it.

haha 12-05-2014 11:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pb4uski (Post 1525639)
Stop wining and welcome to the real world grasshopper. If you don't like it then don't let the door hit you in the a_ _ on your way out.

This is a pretty authoritarian stance. There are other ways to look at this issue.

Ha

pb4uski 12-05-2014 11:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haha (Post 1525847)
This is a pretty authoritarian stance. There are other ways to look at this issue.

Ha

Perhaps, but if you have a tin foil hat firmly strapped to your head and don't like working for the man, then you have a choice: whine about it or vote with your feet.

rodi 12-05-2014 12:30 PM

Everyone: Please keep your comments respectful and on topic.

We can have different opinions and perspectives without resorting to name calling.

Midpack 12-05-2014 12:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by razztazz (Post 1525745)
.

And what guarantee is there they won't/can't? And besides you've already conceded some will do it. What's to prevent it or punish them after the fact?




New regime can end those protections. What's the invulnerable guarunte it can't happen? Ok, so we know it can happen.



What's to keep it from becoming one?



Tussy-covering-speak

If you want to plan/argue based solely on exceptions and what-ifs, you're right. Better?


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