Whole Foods has an interesting new initiative to encourage healthy behavior amongst its employees:
The pricey grocery chain will give 30% discounts to those who don’t smoke and have low blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) rates, says CEO John Mackey … Employees will fall into four categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Those showing “platinum” health will earn 30% discounts; “gold” gets 27% and silver 25%, while “bronze” wins 22% off.
Now there are certainly problems with a program like this, and the article goes on to outline them with lots of quotes from people who are outraged. I, for one, don’t think this is such a bad idea. If it were purely based on weight it probably wouldn’t be such a good program, however, it also includes blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking habits. By combining all these I imagine you get a pretty good picture of overall health (as a side note, I’m the first person to say that BMI is a far from perfect measure of health). This is an attempt to combat the biggest problem with health insurance as it currently exists: There is no incentive to be healthy. While it’s not a perfect program, it’s nice to see some high-profile examples of companies putting the idea into action.
Via: Health Discounts // NoahBrier.com
This is great. People who make lots of healthy decisions should pay less for health insurance than people who make lots of risky decisions. It’s common sense, and the fact that this isn’t currently the case is one of many reasons why our healthcare system is broken.
“This is an attempt to combat the biggest problem with health insurance as it currently exists: There is no incentive to be healthy.”
Really? That’s the biggest problem? Isn’t being healthy inherently rewarding? Isn’t the biggest problem that the insurance industry have secured monopolies and exercise that power to put profits ahead of patients?
Providing discounts to people who are more “healthy” is and idea driven by the same rationale that insurance companies use when they deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions. You are less healthy / You have a disease, therefore you are statistically less attractive to us and we’d rather not give you the discount / cover you.
Health Insurance needs to be a right, not a privilege. If you want people to take better care of themselves, figure out how to make a well balanced meal more affordable than a big mac and a coke. And outlaw cigarettes, too.
Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better myself.