Corporate Workplace Fitness – Has your desk been replaced by a treadmill?

More and more employers are instituting voluntary health / fitness programs for their employees in an attempt to reduce rising insurance costs.

In the U.S., the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows employers to adjust benefits and insurance premiums based on whether their employees have met the standards of a corporate wellness program. The new rules apply to group health plans and went into effect last July.

While the new rules prohibit discrimination, they do allow employers to offer rewards to nonsmokers, employees with a LDL cholesterol level under 200 or a BMI below 25.

Here is where it gets a little bit 1984.

While employers can’t tell an obese employee to lose weight or a smoker to quit, they can require the heavy employee to participate in nutrition classes and the smoker to track their smoking habits.

Usually these programs are administered and monitored by a third party company. This company’s responsibilities would include assessing the health risk of the employees, helping them set goals, providing the wellness services and monitoring their efforts/results.

They are also the judge of whether or not the employee achieved their wellness goals. If the employee met their particular goals, they would receive their wellness incentive (usually a reduction in their insurance contribution). If they didn’t, there would be a financial penalty.

So what do you think?

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

One comment

  1. There was a time that I could have understood the sense in these new policies. However, these days, I do NOT agree with them. I’m sorry, my private life and what I do off the clock is NOT my employers business.

    And excuse me, BUT what’s with this “one size fits all” standards? This is utter BS. All my life my blood pressure has been 90/60 (my ex husband used to ask if I was even alive LOL). That’s the low end of the normal range. I smoke, I drink coffee (back then I drank ONLY coffee all day long – 8 – 12 mugs per day-regular coffee too), I eat salt……or rather I crave salt and over eat it (I salt all my foods before even tasting it). And still that was my blood pressure. As I got older my tastes changed, and while I still smoke, my coffee intake is down to about 3 cups per day, and my salt intake is at least half of what it used to be. These days my blood pressure runs anywhere from 115/75 to 120/80. I got older, started drinking less coffee, using less salt (just a change in tastes not deliberate cut backs) and my blood pressure went up – yes it’s perfect now but still up from what it used to be.

    I am against anyone telling me what I am supposed to weigh. They don’t know me or my body type at all. We all don’t fit into neat little boxes.

    I notice these “wellness” programs have set numbers and god help you if your genetic makeup doesn’t allow you to fit into THEIR standard.

    One person’s healthy state is another’s UNhealthy state. And I refuse to play this 1984 Stepford type being game.

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