Alabama employees now have one year to start losing weight and getting fit, or they’ll pay $25 a month for health insurance that is otherwise free.This program—apparently the first in the nation to penalize workers who don’t slim down, as opposed to rewarding health behaviors—comes on top of another state initiative that charges employees who smoke a fee (which, incidentally, has seen some success in getting people to quit).
Starting in January, 2010, employees will be required to undergo free health screenings for things like blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and obesity.Read more about the particulars of the Alabama wellness program in this article.
If problems turn up, they will have a year to seek free medical help, enroll in a wellness program or make healthy changes on their own.
If they don’t show progress by January, 2011, they’ll have to cough up the extra dough.
Not surprisingly, the piece also contains lots of interesting quotes from both sides of the coin—employer and employee:
"We are trying to get individuals to become more aware of their health," said state worker Robert Wagstaff, who serves on the insurance board…Readers of this blog know that I've looked at the issues of legality and ethics about using carrots [incentives] or sticks [penalties]. And many others have weighed in. So I suspect we haven't heard the last of this Alabama plan.
"It's terrible," said health department employee Chequla Motley. "Some people come into this world big."
Computer technician Tim Colley already pays $24 a month for being a smoker and doesn't like the idea of another charge. "It's too Big Brotherish," he said.
So what do you think of this new program--especially in light of the recent news I wrote about yesterday that half of overweight and a third of obese people are metabolically healthy?