Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Employee wellness programs gone wild

If obesity were like the Olympics, Alabama would hold the bronze.

Following Mississippi and West Virginia, Alabama ranks third highest among the fattest states in the nation, according to an analysis by CalorieLab.

In a state weighed down by Southern fried delicacies, it’s no wonder that the state recently made headlines with a plan to start charging unfit, overweight state workers.


“The state has given its 37,527 employees a year to start getting fit — or they'll pay $25 a month for insurance that otherwise is free.”

Alabama has seen positive results with a similar program encouraging workers to quit smoking, so they’ve remodeled the plan to target unhealthy employees.

“The State Employees' Insurance Board this week approved a plan to charge state workers starting in January 2010 if they don't have free health screenings.

If the screenings turn up serious problems with blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or obesity, employees will have a year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a wellness program, or take steps on their own to improve their health. If they show progress in a follow-up screening, they won't be charged. But if they don't, they must pay starting in January 2011.”

Alabama will be charging obese state workers, Japan is measuring employee waistlines, there are biggest loser competitions in the office and something called a ‘calorie tax’ ... what’s next on the employee wellness front?

Do you think wellness programs are helping employees or are they an ineffective and wasteful attempt to reduce health care costs?

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