Monday, September 27, 2010

Just Pondering...

I've complained before about how my husband's company jacks up the price of the monthly health insurance premium by a hundred bucks a month if one does not participate in the twice yearly health screening. Of course for a savings of twelve hundred dollars I'll go get some blood drawn and my body fat measured, BMI scored, blood pressure measured...the indignity of it being that it's done in a public place.

Well, apparently next year the company is bending over backwards to pay for smoking cessation programs for the employees who smoke. Good for them. And for those who still choose to smoke...there's that extra hundred dollars a month they get to pay. Hmmmm, how do I feel about that?

Well, they are a private company and can do what they will w/ their health care plan. Employees and family members get to decide how to respond to it. It feels a wee bit "big brotherish" but that's the world we live in these days.

And it does make me wonder...will they be coming after us "fatties" next?????? If they pay for me to go to Weight Watchers (or something like it), and make participation and progress in a weight loss program dependent on whether they pay the insurance premium or not, WHAT would I do??????? It's all theoretical at this point, heh. I'm just sniffing out which way the wind blows.

12 comments:

Tabitha said...

Point of curiosity...how do they propose to find out who smokes and to monitor whether or not they have quit? Are there blood tests for nicotine or something? And would this only apply to habitual smokers or does it include the occasional, social smoker? What about second-hand inhalation? That has some nasty side-effects but I don't think it is addictive.

As for going after people with weight issues (over or under)...it doesn't seem very likely, just because it's completely impractical. Certainly you could mandate regular weigh-ins or participation in a program or therapy (where appropriate). But how would you rate day-to-day compliance? Short of monitoring everybody's intake and activity levels, there is no quantifiable way of knowing whether or not they are "on the program" when at home. After all, two people on identical diets will still have different outcomes. A simple weigh-in would be meaningless. For that matter, a single "program" or diet would be insufficient to address the myriad of contributing health issues and physical responses to food. This would require a very high level of "big brother" behavior, which would also be costly.

Alana said...

I think they are basing who does and does not smoke on the self reporting that was done this year as part of the health screening. But sure...very likely someone would lie about it, although making the campus entirely smoke free would mean those who work there would have to leave work in order to sneak a smoke.

All a company would have to do to target the overweight people is set up a weekly or monthly weigh in time with a "nutritional expert" and force people to have nutritional/lifestyle counseling or to go to meetings or whatever...or they might set up an in-house gym and require employees and spouses to exercise there a certain number of times per month.

But you are right...it does get complicated. And it is very big brotherish.

thegeekywife said...

hhhmm....

sadly, i don't think this too far-fetched. But wouldn't weigh-ins or the like bring out the potential for yo-yo dieting, which, if i remember correctly, has been shown to also be harmful?

And if a health insurance company truly cares about the health of it's members, wouldn't they be much better off giving coupons for REAL FOOD, and offering free, no obligation nutritional classes and/or evaluations, and possibly cooking classes?

Alana said...

Of coures, geeky, everything you say is true. But the conventional thinking does not realize it yet.

Alana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marilyn said...

From what I hear from others about their employer sponsored health insurance - you can bet your bippy they will be doing exactly what you're envisioning.My husband's employer (a hospital) is setting up an in house "clinic" that will be able to provide primary care for employees and families. They have also purchased a gym that will be made available to "encourage" employees to exercise. I believe it will not be long before employees are strongly "encouraged" to use this "clinic" for their primary care or they will pay a lot more in a co-pay to go elsewhere.Then they are going to decide you need to use the gym and if you don't your premium will increase. It's coming like a runaway freight train! We all better put down the hot fudge and get our workout clothes on!

Alana said...

My husband's company already has the in-house health clinic where we can go for no copay. Anywhere else we pay, yes indeed. I like the doctor there a lot, so no complaints so far.

And yes, I see the train a-comin'!

Jessica said...

Hmmm that's interesting.. while it seems big brotherish of them to reward personal choices and behaviors, and penalize other choices and behaviors, it seems to be doing so in the name of national healthcare. For instance, smokers DO cost the American people money --- in healthcare costs. Obesity is also a growing issue, and is directly related to death and poor health. I think it's fine for employers to nudge us in a positive direction, and reward those who are saving taxpayers' dollars.


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Random said...

The annual checkups really don't sound unreasonable, but making people pay more because they choose to smoke.

That is definitely big-brotherish social engineering. Smokers already pay a load in taxes etc. It shouldn't be any concern of you employers what you do outside of work.

Tabitha said...

My concern with the Big Brother-ishness of this idea and with the "its for the good of national healthcare" argument is that the government is going to decide that it has to issue national standards and will then proceed to administer healthcare the way it does public education. After all, education is for the benefit, not just of the individual student, but also for the good of the society in which said student will be a citizen.

I'm not trying to be inflammatory here, but if the government tries the same sort of one-size fits all testing standards to healthcare that we do to school systems, then anyone whose health doesn't happen to fall in the middle of the bell curve is just going to be SOL because they will start getting penalized financially for the bum-hand they were given genetically.

Yes, we should all eat and exercise responsibly and take good care of our overall health. But what about the person whose best efforts still do not yield the necessary weight loss to qualify as "healthy"? Is the establishment going to believe them when they claim to be eating their veggies and working out or will they be charged a non-compliant insurance rate? Or worse still, will they come up with some even more Big Brother-ish way to monitor them?

And while I am juxtaposing education and healthcare anyway: what about those atrocious school lunches! They claim that childhood obesity is an epidemic we must be concerned about and then turn around and let them eat junk because "they would never go for" the healthy stuff! Its more about creating a market for subsidized foodstuffs than creating the best food options.

They same can be said for the well-intentioned WIC program. Purportedly, this program is about making sure that lower-income pregnant women, infants and young children have the healthy foods they need to ensure proper development at this crucial time and thereby to reduce future health problems. A great plan, but if you or your child have documented medical needs which require a diet other than their pre-determined foods list, then you are out of luck. This is all they offer and they don't really care if you can't eat it because this is what their experts have determined is right.

I've been banging my head on this wall for the last five years and now I am having to deal with it in the public school cafeteria too! And don't even get me started on my experiences with my kids' government provided healthcare. Truly a life-saver, but soooo inefficient and illogical!! I don't like where I see this all going because I've seen the trajectory from the inside.

Personally, until American individuals (myself included) recognize gluttony as a sin in need of true change, giving your best effort in whatever you do as a moral value that benefits everyone, and charity as a deeply necessary virtue for all people, then I don't think that there is much hope of legislating the necessary behaviors. Still, I guess I'd better start by changing me, right!

Tabitha said...

My concern with the Big Brother-ishness of this idea and with the "its for the good of national healthcare" argument is that the government is going to decide that it has to issue national standards and will then proceed to administer healthcare the way it does public education. After all, education is for the benefit, not just of the individual student, but also for the good of the society in which said student will be a citizen.

I'm not trying to be inflammatory here, but if the government tries the same sort of one-size fits all testing standards to healthcare that we do to school systems, then anyone whose health doesn't happen to fall in the middle of the bell curve is just going to be SOL because they will start getting penalized financially for the bum-hand they were given genetically.

Yes, we should all eat and exercise responsibly and take good care of our overall health. But what about the person whose best efforts still do not yield the necessary weight loss to qualify as "healthy"? Is the establishment going to believe them when they claim to be eating their veggies and working out or will they be charged a non-compliant insurance rate? Or worse still, will they come up with some even more Big Brother-ish way to monitor them?

Tabitha said...

Sorry about the partial repost. It told me it couldn't process my post and then did it anyway! I didn't realize until too late. Peace.