Employers pay for healthy living

67 posts / 0 new
Last post
wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796
Employers pay for healthy living

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/28/more-employers-rewarding-healthy-workers-with-cash/?test=faces

Would you want to work for a company that penalized you for bad personal habits?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Absolutely.

It is ridiculous that charging a smoker or obese person more for health insurance is even looked at as a "penalty". Its just logical based on risk. I had to take a drug test, tobacco test and get weighted/measured for life insurance and our premiums were based on the results. I'm fine with health insurance being the same way.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

I am really torn about this.

On one hand I think giving incentives for healthy living are great. I support them in the sense of a rewards program. basically stating that there is a charge for health care (regardless or weight or lifestyle) and if you go above and beyond improving your health, you are given a bonus.

Where I don't agree with this concept is the idea of punishing those for legal activities (smoking, eating fast food, etc). I think that this could spiral easily from just smokers and overweight people to people with family histories of cancer, heart disease, even pregnancy, etc. and discrimination based on those parameters as well.

At my office our costs when up (as did so many other people) and they made a point of speaking of the causes in a meeting about it. These increases were attributed to a few hospitilizations, surgeries, pregnancy, and significant health diagnoses. As it was the year I had my son (and I was the only pregnancy in the office that year), I knew that I was one of the ones they were speaking about. It felt really horrible, and I felt really bad for utilizing my insurance in the way it was intended to be used. I felt like I was being blamed (or part of the blame) for others having to shell out more money for insurance. It totally sucked, and to this day has changed my opinion about my company.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"elleon17" wrote:

Where I don't agree with this concept is the idea of punishing those for legal activities (smoking, eating fast food, etc). .

So you support punishing (I'd call it penalizing) the employers for the bad choices of their employees, but not the employees themselves? The employees can change their behavior, the employers can't change it for them, and you support allowing the employer to be "punished" by paying a lot more for someone who chooses to, say, smoke a pack of cigs a day? That is weird, to me.

It isn't about punishment, it is about making choices which put you at risk. If you choose to smoke, cool! You just owe more. Why shouldn't the individual be held financially accountable for choices they want to make?

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

I think it is a great idea. Especially the type of programs that recheck and reward based on progress. No one else is going to make someone healthier, but I think these sorts of incentives might give some people the push they need.

We have private health care, but my employer does offer money to smokers to spend on whatever program they want to quit and then gives a monetary reward if they succeed.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3309

I think its just simply wiser to offer incentives instead of penalties...it achieves the same goal without the negative environment. I think a crappy feeling work environment is bad for the company overall and a penalty based system will contribute to that.

Perhaps you might not get quite the same financial results with incentives vs. penalties but i think there is a time to count pennies and a time not to. I just don't think this is the right place (speaking about penalties only here). I get that it costs them money and yes thats not fair...but life isn't fair. People will *always* absue systems that are in place for them...be it government or private sponsored and its part of the price you have to pay in order to do the right thing for everyone as a whole.

Incentives are great though, because i think they have the right mental attitude and that is good for the company as a whole, especially if there are various ways to get them.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Potter75" wrote:

It isn't about punishment, it is about making choices which put you at risk. If you choose to smoke, cool! You just owe more. Why shouldn't the individual be held financially accountable for choices they want to make?

You are being punished for the higher likelihood that you could cost more. If you are smoker who doesn't have any complications, why should you pay more because of a higher chance that you could incur more health costs? The same logic can be applied to someone with a family history of cancer. They may not have cancer themselves, but they could be at a higher risk to incur large health care costs.

Also, since most plans only charge more if you are currently a smoker, how does that really help? Many people smoke for years and then quit. Aren't they at a higher risk for more health care costs?

This is strange to me because I work for a company that is retailer of wine & spirits. This also means we sell cigars (and cigarettes) and we promote the cigars heavily, but we won't hire a smoker and charge anyhow who does smoke more in insurance. I just find the standards hypocritical at times.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"KimPossible" wrote:

Incentives are great though, because i think they have the right mental attitude and that is good for the company as a whole, especially if there are various ways to get them.

I agree

Joined: 11/28/06
Posts: 848

I'm unsure how I feel about this. Overall, I think the cost of healthcare is ridiculously high and I'm slightly ticked every time I pay a medical bill (which was just 20 minutes ago, lol).

I think it is a nice thought to offer monetary incentives to lose weight or quit smoking, but what about those of us that never smoked or have maintained a healthy weight? Shouldn't we get some extra cash too, or does that only go to people who have made unhealthy choices concerning their lifestyle but now decide to shed a few pounds or put out that cigarette when someone starts talking money?

Seems a little more fair that smokers and overweight individuals pay more for health insurance. Those are choices. I'm assuming (and hoping) that wouldn't open the door to charge more to individuals that have cancer, asthma, diabetes, etc. Those are not choices.

But like I said, I'm not firm on my stance at all. Maybe someone can convince me one way or another.....

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Alana*sMommy" wrote:

I

I'm assuming (and hoping) that wouldn't open the door to charge more to individuals that have cancer, asthma, diabetes, etc. Those are not choices.

That's actually why I can't decide either. Since it is usually comes down to the increase in cost overall, what would stop those from being next in line. Once you open that door, can you shut it?

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1683

I too am torn on this. I don't smoke or drink, my habits aren't risk factors for other health issues such as heart disease and high blood pressure. However, I have a family history on both sides putting me at higher risk.

If I remember correctly, what lowers the cost of our insurance is how big the pool of employees is. I don't know for sure, but I think there's something like only 5 companies that school districts use in the state. When you are talking that many people in the pool, the cost should go down in theory.

But then I think about car insurance. My premium is based on a lot of factors and I am penalized for my own decisions. I'm also rewarded for safe driving, having lowjack, etc. If I go out and buy a sporty or luxury vehicle, I pay more. So I don't know what I think.

To digress a bit: some companies have what's called "dead peasants" insurance policies on employees. The idea is that if an employee dies, it will cost the company money to train their replacement. Thus, life insurance on the employee pays out to the company. Coupling that with punishing employees for legal activities doesn't set well to me.

I may be wrong, but isn't stress a big factor when it comes to health problems? I wonder what the research shows regarding companies that give more flex time and try to minimize stress compared to more stressful workplace environments.

FLSunshineMom's picture
Joined: 06/07/06
Posts: 3859

I'm wondering how they will know for sure that a smoker that supposedly quits doesn't still smoke at home?

As for the incentives for a healthier lifestyle, I think that's a good idea, as long as they can regulate it fairly to prevent employees from being dishonest yet still getting the cash/incentive.

As for the penalties, though it sounds good in theory, something just doesn't set right with me about it. It feels too much like interference in workers' personal lives. I mean, they didn't have to hire them in the first place if they were worried about their weight, right? (Not that they would SAY that was the reason they didn't hire them.)

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

I agree with Kim on this one. At our work, they offer incentives to participate in healthy eating and exercising. Health issues is not limited to the smokers and obese. I know many others who are not obese that eat very unhealthy and have major health issues because of their food choices or lack of exercise. Reward systems/positive reinforcements are much more effective than penalizing specific people or groups. And our life insurance did not require medical records or anything. It's open to all employees at time of hire or annual open enrollment, just like health insurance without a pre-screening for eligibility. Health insurance already excludes pre-existing conditions if they're on private insurance, just like private life insurance denies those with specific pre-existing conditions.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"Beertje" wrote:

I agree with Kim on this one. At our work, they offer incentives to participate in healthy eating and exercising. Health issues is not limited to the smokers and obese. I know many others who are not obese that eat very unhealthy and have major health issues because of their food choices or lack of exercise. Reward systems/positive reinforcements are much more effective than penalizing specific people or groups. And our life insurance did not require medical records or anything. It's open to all employees at time of hire or annual open enrollment, just like health insurance without a pre-screening for eligibility. Health insurance already excludes pre-existing conditions if they're on private insurance, just like private life insurance denies those with specific pre-existing conditions.

Cite?

I would never want to have life insurance with no screening ~ why should I pay more when I don't have to?

ETA: I just re read your post and you appear to be talking about the work life insurance that comes with your job, not private life insurance. I assume that either you or your spouse has private life insurance in the event that you get sick, lose your job, and then die, right? If so, were you screened for it? If not, you need a new plan ASAP!

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

I doubt there's a cite anywhere that shows that penalizing specific groups will encourage better than positive reinforcement. What I have seen where I work is hundreds of pounds lost within two years of positive reinforcements and rewards systems, including having in-service weight loss systems provided. The number of employees is around 200+ people. That, in itself, speaks volumes to me. Regardless, there are plenty of people within this group that also are well within weight guidelines that have health issues related to unhealthy eating. Just because one's metabolism may be better than another's does not mean they should be able to pay less.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1533

I think that in theory this works great but I fear that employers will also start penalizing for things like pregnancy. Pregnancy is expensive and is voluntary so they could start charging more for it.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"Beertje" wrote:

I doubt there's a cite anywhere that shows that penalizing specific groups will encourage better than positive reinforcement. What I have seen where I work is hundreds of pounds lost within two years of positive reinforcements and rewards systems, including having in-service weight loss systems provided. The number of employees is around 200+ people. That, in itself, speaks volumes to me. Regardless, there are plenty of people within this group that also are well within weight guidelines that have health issues related to unhealthy eating. Just because one's metabolism may be better than another's does not mean they should be able to pay less.

But you have nothing to compare this # to so it is meaningless from a debate perspective. Maybe 300 would have lost weight had they had to pay more or be penalized for being obese. Maybe not, too. Just pointing out that your statement of fact that I asked for a cite on is not one that you can back up.

Just because one's metabolism may be better than another's does not mean they should be able to pay less.

That is ridiculous. Do you also object to healthy people paying lower life insurance premiums as they do?

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

I have life insurance through work and never had a screening.

I would worry about such things penalizing people for conditions that are not their fault. I don't think it should be the state of your health. It makes sense to me that smokers would pay higher premiums for sure, but I could totally see pregnancy becoming one of those things (because it's a choice, and costs money), and I think people struggling with weight and health issues don't need the extra expense on top of all the other difficulties that go with it. How would you measure these things? You can join Weight Watchers but if you don't follow the plan and lose weight do you still save money? How do you determine things? And I agree that weight isn't the best way to figure it out.

I think we have to be very careful about where we draw lines like this.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

I just don't see pregnancy being lumped into a risk category in the same way smoking and obesity are.

There are known, proven, risks associated with smoking, for example. Smoking effects your lifelong mortality and morbidity rates. I haven't got stats on hand to back it up, but I really don't think the same can be said for pregnancy.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I have life insurance through work and never had a screening.

I would worry about such things penalizing people for conditions that are not their fault. I don't think it should be the state of your health. It makes sense to me that smokers would pay higher premiums for sure, but I could totally see pregnancy becoming one of those things (because it's a choice, and costs money), and I think people struggling with weight and health issues don't need the extra expense on top of all the other difficulties that go with it. How would you measure these things? You can join Weight Watchers but if you don't follow the plan and lose weight do you still save money? How do you determine things? And I agree that weight isn't the best way to figure it out.

I think we have to be very careful about where we draw lines like this.

I absolutely agree with this. I do know that the incentives provided at my work were motivators for many people who would not have started at the time and were thinking of losing weight. This gave them the motivation to start and given the tools to continue. I know this because many of them are close coworkers of mine. I think it's an awesome way to be proactive instead of pointing out flaws in people which may become more of a hindrance than actually helping them. And while weight issues may be controlled most of the time, it is not 100% of the time. To lump everyone together to say that you have a health problem, therefore you must pay a higher rate takes away the purpose of the health insurance to begin with. Next you'll see employers allowing their insurance companies to screen out employees or to no longer be covered under pre-existing conditions because after all, that would significantly decrease premiums for the healthy as well.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that with the reward systems in place, it lowered our premiums for 2012 plus we got a refund from being under budget for 2010 of over $800 per employee. We're self-insured so the expenses were a direct result of the employee's and their families' health conditions. That to me is surely a better outcome than having those pay higher premiums because of some issues that may or may not be within their control.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

"kris_w" wrote:

I just don't see pregnancy being lumped into a risk category in the same way smoking and obesity are.

There are known, proven, risks associated with smoking, for example. Smoking effects your lifelong mortality and morbidity rates. I haven't got stats on hand to back it up, but I really don't think the same can be said for pregnancy.

No but pregnancy affects COST, which is really the only thing health insurance companies care about. In fact if you die from something they don't care...their only concern is the cost of the care while you are alive.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

No but pregnancy affects COST, which is really the only thing health insurance companies care about. In fact if you die from something they don't care...their only concern is the cost of the care while you are alive.

I agree the insurance providers only care about cost. And from strictly a $ perspective it is cheaper that a person die then go on living with an expensive chronic health issue.

My point is that it is the chronic health issues that bring up overall costs, as opposed to things like pregnancies. The cost of me having a baby is far, far less then the cost of me getting lung cancer, COPD, emphysema, chronic pneumonia or bronchitis, having a stroke, heart attack, etc. (morbidities all well documented to increase in frequency with smoking for example)

Pregnancy is no more a "risk factor" than is having your tonsils or an appendix.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

"kris_w" wrote:

I agree the insurance providers only care about cost. And from strictly a $ perspective it is cheaper that a person die then go on living with an expensive chronic health issue.

My point is that it is the chronic health issues that bring up overall costs, as opposed to things like pregnancies. The cost of me having a baby is far, far less then the cost of me getting lung cancer, COPD, emphysema, chronic pneumonia or bronchitis, having a stroke, heart attack, etc. (morbidities all well documented to increase in frequency with smoking for example)

Pregnancy is no more a "risk factor" than is having your tonsils or an appendix.

You could argue that smoking doesn't guarantee an increase in costs though. Some people smoke all their lives and never get sick from it. Pregnancy absolutely guarantees an increase in health care costs.

My point is that health insurance companies don't care about the nuances, only the bottom line. If they see a way to increase costs to the companies people work for for any reason, of course they will do it. It won't matter if it's "fair".

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

You could argue that smoking doesn't guarantee an increase in costs though. Some people smoke all their lives and never get sick from it. Pregnancy absolutely guarantees an increase in health care costs.

I don't think that argument would hold water. Statistics certainly wouldn't back up your stance. About smoking I mean.

Of course, pregnancy has a cost. But, I bet overall, in large studies it has a much smaller impact than things like smoking and obesity. Heck, pregnancy decreases your odds of getting ovarian cancer.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

"kris_w" wrote:

I don't think that argument would hold water. Statistics certainly wouldn't back up your stance. About smoking I mean.

Of course, pregnancy has a cost. But, I bet overall, in large studies it has a much smaller impact than things like smoking and obesity. Heck, pregnancy decreases your odds of getting ovarian cancer.

But again, obesity also might not result in cost increases. It's not a guarantee the way pregnancy is. Anyway...it's not just pregnancy that makes me uncomfortable with penalizing people. I think it's just too hard to measure sometimes, unless it's a specific thing like smoking or not smoking, which is easily measured and determined. But some people might have great healthy eating habits and are still overweight....how do you determine if they are excercising, eating right, etc. just by weighing them? It's not accurate way to determine health. Bodybuilders are also very heavy for their height, if weight is used as a measurement that can be a problem too.

culturedmom's picture
Joined: 09/30/06
Posts: 1131

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

But again, obesity also might not result in cost increases. It's not a guarantee the way pregnancy is. Anyway...it's not just pregnancy that makes me uncomfortable with penalizing people. I think it's just too hard to measure sometimes, unless it's a specific thing like smoking or not smoking, which is easily measured and determined. But some people might have great healthy eating habits and are still overweight....how do you determine if they are excercising, eating right, etc. just by weighing them? It's not accurate way to determine health. Bodybuilders are also very heavy for their height, if weight is used as a measurement that can be a problem too.

where is the "Like" button?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Beertje" wrote:

Just because one's metabolism may be better than another's does not mean they should be able to pay less.

I agree.

I think health incentives are wonderful. For example, a friend works at a company that provides free gym membership but only if they use it at least once a month.

As for penalizing people for being obese, I disagree. I was recently home for Christmas. I just saw my sister who is much skinnier than I am. She can still fit into her size 4 jeans she wore in HS. I also saw her eat more than any man there eat. She eats NON Stop. Anything she feels like. I just filled my fridge with pre-cut celery sticks, carrot sticks, peas, apples, and oranges to snack on. In any given meal she eats almost twice what I do. I am also a good 100lbs more than she is. Why should her health insurance be less than mine?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm tired of the "obese people are super healthy" concept. It is wrong. Obese is a medical definition. Are some people larger and some smaller? Yes, ABSOLUTELY. And many people may be overweight yet embody a healthy lifestyle. If you are obese, you are not healthy. I don't care what is in your fridge. You may just be effed, if you have been in a cycle of being very overweight you may never, ever lose it (research is proving this), but yes, you should pay more, and yes that sucks, but why on earth is it "unfair" to penalize you, but not "unfair" to penalize your employer, who did nothing but give you a job?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I agree.

I think health incentives are wonderful. For example, a friend works at a company that provides free gym membership but only if they use it at least once a month.

That is stupid. Going to the gym once a month is like brushing your teeth once a month.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I have life insurance through work and never had a screening.

I would worry about such things penalizing people for conditions that are not their fault. I don't think it should be the state of your health. It makes sense to me that smokers would pay higher premiums for sure, but I could totally see pregnancy becoming one of those things (because it's a choice, and costs money), and I think people struggling with weight and health issues don't need the extra expense on top of all the other difficulties that go with it. How would you measure these things? You can join Weight Watchers but if you don't follow the plan and lose weight do you still save money? How do you determine things? And I agree that weight isn't the best way to figure it out.

I think we have to be very careful about where we draw lines like this.

I hear what you are saying. Honestly the whole "get your insurance through your job" thing is ridiculous (be it health or life). I'm not kidding when I say that I hope you guys have private life insurance policies and are not relying on your work ones. Of course they don't screen, because they suck.

I just don't understand the mentality of "its so hard to be very fat so don't penalize them, penalize their employer". The employer isn't the one who put them in their predicament.

As far as pregnancy, we already pay a premium on that. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/us/30insure.html. It makes sense. Just like the other conditions which involve choice make sense.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

You could argue that smoking doesn't guarantee an increase in costs though. Some people smoke all their lives and never get sick from it. .

Some people can also walk on fire. Some people can eat whatever they want and not gain a pound. Some people don't have their pee stink after eating asparagus. None of that matters, from the perspective of an actuary. Its numbers. So yes, some lifelong smokers won't get cancer. My grandmother and grandfather both smoked, she died of dementia and he is kickin it at 97 with his 4th wife and no lung cancer. Doesn't matter. It is about risk management.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

So I am curious, to those of you who are all down on the US because it does not offer affordable insurance to every citizen. Do you think there should be that affordable insurance for only the people that are skinny and do not smoke? Health insurance already costs so much, should the price be raised so much on people in high risk categories that they just can't possibly afford it and therefore can not have insurance at all? It does not seem horribly consistent to want universal healthcare for everyone and then at the same time want higher premiums for people in higher risk categories.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Not sure who you are talking to. If you mean me, I've been the grinch of anti UHC for like, forever, or at least since Obama and his (horrible, ineffective, grasping terrible initiative) came into public discussion. I'm selfish and really really enjoy my wonderful health policy and care. That said, we need to change things here in the US, because the current system is unsustainable and downright unethical. I also think that employer based health insurance (or life insurance) is a terrible concept.

I don't really understand your question......who has said that they only think that skinny non smokers should have health insurance?

To me, it would be like me arguing that it is unfair that my giant SUV costs more to fuel. That isn't unfair, that is reality. I chose my higher gas bills when I bought it.

Skewed idea of "fair" when it comes to numbers, when it comes to weight. It is really weird.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I just saw my sister who is much skinnier than I am. She can still fit into her size 4 jeans she wore in HS. I also saw her eat more than any man there eat. She eats NON Stop. Anything she feels like. I just filled my fridge with pre-cut celery sticks, carrot sticks, peas, apples, and oranges to snack on. In any given meal she eats almost twice what I do. I am also a good 100lbs more than she is. Why should her health insurance be less than mine?

I eat like that. All the time. Eating is healthy. So is exercising. Her health insurance should be less than yours because she is statistically less likely to die a long slow death from weight related diseases. Will she? Who knows! But all of insurance is a numbers game, and people want to get all emotional about it and interject personal stories and whatnot.....but none of it matters. It's just a fact. I smoked a cigarette last night in my NY's party mode (while drinking, also unhealthy in excess) and I Loved/ Every/Hot/Smoky/Cancer/Second of it. It was unhealthy and it was bad for me. I can own it. If I tested positive for tobacco in an insurance screening I would accept the fact that I would have to pay more. Life.

I would argue that if you have whacked out your metabolism (it isn't logical that you would eat celery all the time and be 100 lbs overweight), it is something that you have to deal with, for sure, but is surely not anyone elses fault nor should it be their liability.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

I just want to know how things could be accurately determined, that's what I'm getting at. And right now I work at a company that gives free health insurance to everyone. I can't complain. But I just need to know a lot more about where the lines might be drawn.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I agree that it would all need to be clearly determined and of course would have to be logical. I think that in general, companies trip over themselves to NOT offend anyone, but of course their policy or incentives ought to be the sort which are clearly understood and accepted at the time of hiring.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

"Potter75" wrote:

I agree that it would all need to be clearly determined and of course would have to be logical. I think that in general, companies trip over themselves to NOT offend anyone, but of course their policy or incentives ought to be the sort which are clearly understood and accepted at the time of hiring.

My experience with health insurance companies is that they make policies as difficult to understand as possible. The first time I had to make choices about it I asked my dad to read the materials to help me out. He gave it a go and all he came up with was that he'd finally found a cure for insomnia since he couldn't stay awake through the literature they provided.

They really try to make it as unclear as possible. The NY Times did a huge story a few years back about how even doctors and hospital administrators couldn't understand the nuances.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

As for penalizing people for being obese, I disagree. I was recently home for Christmas. I just saw my sister who is much skinnier than I am. She can still fit into her size 4 jeans she wore in HS. I also saw her eat more than any man there eat. She eats NON Stop. Anything she feels like. I just filled my fridge with pre-cut celery sticks, carrot sticks, peas, apples, and oranges to snack on. In any given meal she eats almost twice what I do. I am also a good 100lbs more than she is. Why should her health insurance be less than mine?

Because statistically, you are more likely to get sick or die than she is.

And please understand, I'm not trying to be a jerk. I'm obese... My weight loss goal is to become overweight Smile But, I know and accept that my weight is unhealthy and puts me at higher risk for all sorts of diseases. Am I sick now? No. My BP, cholesterol, blood glucose, and all that are just fine. But, don't ask me to run very far because I can't and that tells me my cardiac system isn't where it should be.

If my employer is paying for my medical, they most certainly have the right to penalize me. And if I choose to participate, I would probably have a lot to gain by incentive programs.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

We aren't talking about policies, which I agree can be cumbersome.....but employers. Not hard to understand "tobacco free" incentives or the like.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

So I am curious, to those of you who are all down on the US because it does not offer affordable insurance to every citizen. Do you think there should be that affordable insurance for only the people that are skinny and do not smoke? Health insurance already costs so much, should the price be raised so much on people in high risk categories that they just can't possibly afford it and therefore can not have insurance at all? It does not seem horribly consistent to want universal healthcare for everyone and then at the same time want higher premiums for people in higher risk categories.

I think this is directed at me.

I do support (and live in a country with) public health care. I believe access to good health care is a fundamental right and that healthy people make a healthy productive country.

HOWEVER, if a private organization is providing health care, I completely support their right to do it however they choose and would expect them to do it in the most fiscally responsible manner from their perspective. I see it similar to companies that provide insurance of any sort (life, travel, car, homeowners). Obviously they will base premiums on risk factors and statistics. It is a business, they aren't doing it out of the goodness of their heart, and I wouldn't expect them to.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"kris_w" wrote:

I think this is directed at me.

I am sorry. My post was not directed at any one person. Just that the last debate about health insurance most people were in favor of everyone having equal access to health insurance did not seem consistent with this debate.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I am sorry. My post was not directed at any one person. Just that the last debate about health insurance most people were in favor of everyone having equal access to health insurance did not seem consistent with this debate.

No worries. I can see how it could be seen as inconsistent. I hope I managed to explain how I see the two as different.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

"Potter75" wrote:

I'm tired of the "obese people are super healthy" concept. It is wrong. Obese is a medical definition. Are some people larger and some smaller? Yes, ABSOLUTELY. And many people may be overweight yet embody a healthy lifestyle. If you are obese, you are not healthy. I don't care what is in your fridge. You may just be effed, if you have been in a cycle of being very overweight you may never, ever lose it (research is proving this), but yes, you should pay more, and yes that sucks, but why on earth is it "unfair" to penalize you, but not "unfair" to penalize your employer, who did nothing but give you a job?

So are you saying that if a person who has asthma doesn't do everything necessary to reduce the number of occurrences of attacks they should also be penalized because they're creating their own medical issues? How about if a high risk pregnant woman chose to not have all the medical attention that was requested by her OB and the child was born very prematurely because of those choices - should the mother have a higher premium because of those choices? Or even if someone became physically unable to exercise because of a disabling factor, should they also have their premiums raised do to something beyond their control as well? How about those that are advanced age since they statistically have higher medical expenses than those in their 20's? Should they pay higher premiums as well? If research is finding evidence that those that have consistently had overweight issues (and no one has said "obese people are super healthy") and they have no indication of any other health issues, why should they be penalized when they very likely can be in better shape than those that are within the realms of normal weight? I know many people who are overweight that run half marathons while many of those within normal weight can't handle running a block. If the employer wants to weed out all of the statistically high costs, they would not limit it to those that are simply overweight or smoke. Where is the line drawn then and who on earth would want to work for them with that kind of benefit package (or lack thereof)?

And if one thinks that private health insurance coverage is difficult to understand, just wait until one has to research all of the medicare plans before picking one that is best for them in both coverage and cost. It's absolutely insane.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3183

"Potter75" wrote:

We aren't talking about policies, which I agree can be cumbersome.....but employers. Not hard to understand "tobacco free" incentives or the like.

Agreed....it just gets iffy when you are defining "the like". But I have no problem with simple, straightforward health incentives to reduce costs. I am just uncomfortable with where the line gets drawn. I am also against drug testing and can see this becoming integrated into it very easily as well.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"Beertje" wrote:

So are you saying that if a person who has asthma doesn't do everything necessary to reduce the number of occurrences of attacks they should also be penalized because they're creating their own medical issues? How about if a high risk pregnant woman chose to not have all the medical attention that was requested by her OB and the child was born very prematurely because of those choices - should the mother have a higher premium because of those choices? Or even if someone became physically unable to exercise because of a disabling factor, should they also have their premiums raised do to something beyond their control as well? How about those that are advanced age since they statistically have higher medical expenses than those in their 20's? Should they pay higher premiums as well? If research is finding evidence that those that have consistently had overweight issues (and no one has said "obese people are super healthy") and they have no indication of any other health issues, why should they be penalized when they very likely can be in better shape than those that are within the realms of normal weight? I know many people who are overweight that run half marathons while many of those within normal weight can't handle running a block. If the employer wants to weed out all of the statistically high costs, they would not limit it to those that are simply overweight or smoke. Where is the line drawn then and who on earth would want to work for them with that kind of benefit package (or lack thereof)?

And if one thinks that private health insurance coverage is difficult to understand, just wait until one has to research all of the medicare plans before picking one that is best for them in both coverage and cost. It's absolutely insane.

Really? You personally know many obese people who RUN (not walk) half marathons? I don't believe you. And you personally know a ton of thin people who can't RUN a BLOCK? Again, I simply don't believe you. And I will forever disagree with you that it is "very likely" that an obese person is healthier than a non smoking non obese person. Sorry. If you want to provide stats, great, otherwise those sort of statements are totally meaningless to me from a debate perspective.

As to the rest, you and I don't see obesity the same way, so we will simply never agree. I can sum it up like that.

Your "points" have absolutely zero relation to the article or concept in the OP (prematurity, asthma, pregnancy etc) so I'm unsure what, exactly, you are talking about.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

"Potter75" wrote:

Really? You personally know many obese people who RUN (not walk) half marathons? I don't believe you. And you personally know a ton of thin people who can't RUN a BLOCK? Again, I simply don't believe you. And I will forever disagree with you that it is "very likely" that an obese person is healthier than a non smoking non obese person. Sorry. If you want to provide stats, great, otherwise those sort of statements are totally meaningless to me from a debate perspective.

As to the rest, you and I don't see obesity the same way, so we will simply never agree. I can sum it up like that.

First, don't exaggerate what I say. I did not say a ton. I know many - yes many - who who are within normal weight ranges who are out of shape and have difficulties catching their breath after running a short distance. Just like I know many who run 5K and half marathons who are overweight and finish (maybe slower than those in better shape). It doesn't matter if you believe me or not. Where did you pull the bolded line from? Are you believing that a nonsmoking, thin, non exercising person will forever be more likely to be healthy than a nonsmoking, overweight, exercising person? I'd really like to see the stats on that one because I've always been told that exercise of the body is always a better indicator of health than simply weight. Do you know something different?

As the rest (which has nothing to do with obesity or being overweight) of the scenarios that have everything to do with statistically higher medical cost scenarios, why won't you answer these questions as to whether you're ok with them having higher premiums? I find these scenarios just as relevant in health care costs as those that are overweight. To discriminate against one subgroup of people that may or may not have full control of their weight would be no different than discriminate against any other subgroup of people that may or may not have full control over their health issues as well. All the statistics of all these scenarios are already factored in when figuring out one premium for the blanket coverage of all employees. I would also question the possibility of violation of HIPPA if one were to discriminate premiums on medical records (including weight) linked to specific people. This is information employers are not privy to.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

If obesity is so healthy why is your company incenting people to lose weight? Isn't that a waste of resources? I "pulled" my question from here

If research is finding evidence that those that have consistently had overweight issues (and no one has said "obese people are super healthy") and they have no indication of any other health issues, why should they be penalized when they very likely can be in better shape than those that are within the realms of normal weight?

They are penalized because obesity IS a health issue.

Out of curiosity, are you overweight? Because honestly your argument makes no sense, unless you are personally defensive about your weight (IMO). It has been proven, over and over, that when obese people reduce their weight, they signifigantly reduce their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other weight related diseases. To argue otherwise is so inane I find it hard to debate, really. I guess I'm just glad that more and more companies, and more and more insurances are disagreeing with you. The rates of these programs are skyrocketing.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"Beertje" wrote:


As the rest (which has nothing to do with obesity or being overweight) of the scenarios that have everything to do with statistically higher medical cost scenarios, why won't you answer these questions as to whether you're ok with them having higher premiums? I find these scenarios just as relevant in health care costs as those that are overweight.
To discriminate against one subgroup of people that may or may not have full control of their weight would be no different than discriminate against any other subgroup of people that may or may not have full control over their health issues as well. All the statistics of all these scenarios are already factored in when figuring out one premium for the blanket coverage of all employees. I would also question the possibility of violation of HIPPA if one were to discriminate premiums on medical records (including weight) linked to specific people. This is information employers are not privy to.

That is great if you find them just as revelant! Obviously corporations and insurance companies do not, as issues like those (which don't involve choice, like smoking or obesity) are not included in the incentives or penalties. Yes, they are already factored into the rates and premiums. So, I'm not bothering to answer a question which is entirely unrelated to the actual debate.

I appreciate you are concerned with HIPPA enforcement, but something tells me like corporate giants like Walmart managed to do what they are doing within the realm of the law. I'd bet that they have one or two lawyers who ensure such things.

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

Just want to throw out there that "obese" and "overweight" are really different. There are studies that show that people on the lower of end of the overweight category often are as healthy or healthier than their underweight counterparts. The same can not be said for obesity.

I can totally see how that would be as far a slightly overweight people. Case in point is my DH. He is 5'6" and 160lbs. According to his BMI he is slightly overweight, which is hilarious if you actually see him. No one would ever describe his as overweight/chubby/chunky/big in any way. He is the type of guy that can up and run forever (despite not running in months) or do 70 push ups out of the blue. So, my guess is that those super healthy overweight (not obese!) people are like him - slightly bigger frame, active, muscular - and yes, perfectly healthy.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

Kris, I agree, and have repeatedly pointedly only used the term obese.

Joined: 06/04/07
Posts: 1368

"Potter75" wrote:

If obesity is so healthy why is your company incenting people to lose weight? Isn't that a waste of resources? I "pulled" my question from here They are penalized because obesity IS a health issue.

Out of curiosity, are you overweight? Because honestly your argument makes no sense, unless you are personally defensive about your weight (IMO). It has been proven, over and over, that when obese people reduce their weight, they signifigantly reduce their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other weight related diseases. To argue otherwise is so inane I find it hard to debate, really. I guess I'm just glad that more and more companies, and more and more insurances are disagreeing with you. The rates of these programs are skyrocketing.

What our agency gets are exercise challenges, healthy eating challenges, and provide a weight loss support system. Nothing in regards to quitting smoking - although I think they should. Our health insurance pays for the gym membership as long as one goes 10 times a month. Exercise, by far, is the biggest factor they focus on and reward with in the majority of the challenges - not weight loss. While I don't disagree about the general risk factors associated with weight, it has also been proven that when people increase their exercise, the same risks for diabetes, heart attacks, and cancer have been reduced. Lack of exercise IS a health issue. This is also supported by the Blue Cross - Get Moving advertising they've been pushing as well. This push is not limited to those overweight. Should all those not exercising be charged more as well? I'm talking about all the health choices people make that affects everyone's premiums. Who's to say that the employers would stop at just smoking and weight (if that would even be legal)? Remember when they charged higher premiums for women who were of child bearing ages? That was found to be unconstitutional. If one is so in favor of increasing premiums for specific subgroups why would they not be in favor of increasing premiums for all the rest of the subgroups consciously choose poor health decisions that increases their risk of potentially higher medical expenses or better yet to exclude medical expenses that are linked to these choices as pre-existing conditions? To me, it's completely backward to increase premiums when alternatives show positive results. Plus, they would find employees much happier receiving rewards for the challenges and goals they are meeting rather than unhappy employees who are singled out and forced to pay a higher premium. You know, positive reinforcement versus punishment?

Pages

Log in or register to post comments