American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association oppose State Health Plan style wellness provisions

There is discussion in Washington about allowing employers more discretion to impose financial penalties on unhealthy workers. The legislation would allow more businesses and governments to create wellness provisions similar to the ones proposed in North Carolina.

Now some heavy hitters are opposing these punitive wellness provisions.

Here is part of what the three groups said in a policy statement:

The American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and American Diabetes Association support comprehensive wellness programs in the workplace. However, all three groups believe that financial incentives used to motivate behavior should not be tied to premiums, deductibles or other coinsurance paid by employers. The evidence that insurance based incentives change behavior is lacking, and the risk that these plans could be used to discriminate against persons who are less healthy than their counterparts is not insignificant.

Health care reform should not replace the practice of charging higher premiums for individuals who smoke, are overweight, or suffer from high blood pressure, with plans that charge lower premiums for people who don’t smoke, are not overweight, or who have normal blood pressure. Many individuals with chronic conditions will find it difficult to meet the standards set by wellness plans and could end up paying higher premiums in the individual and small group markets – just as they do now.

Furthermore, the individual’s right to privacy about their personal health status in the workplace can be compromised by these programs.

I couldn’t agree more. You can read the entire statement here.


  1. IBXer

    November 12, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I agree Adam, the government should not be involved in healthcare because these sorts of issues arise.

  2. Adam Linker

    November 12, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Punitive wellness plans were pioneered by private employers. Who can outlaw these ridiculous practices if not the government?

  3. EBB

    November 12, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for staying on top of this. I am glad the three organizations have come out in opposition to this crazy, insulting idea. But of course the SHP suffers from a peculiar, misinformed monovision.

  4. Quizzical

    November 13, 2009 at 7:23 am

    The alternative is for employers to compel workers to pay more to subsidize the bad lifestyle choices of their coworkers. People aren’t being penalized for illnesses they can’t control, they’re being rewarded for taking the steps they can to be healthier. None of the programs penalizes poor health status — they just make it more expensive for people who refuse to even TRY. You can save money simply by participating in a weight loss program, even if it’s not successful.

    Since we’re stuck with the cost of each other’s care, then we’re all responsible to each other to try to minimize that cost. You want the former, but whine about the latter. An odd kind of rugged individualism.

  5. Alex

    November 13, 2009 at 8:29 am

    The State Health Plan Shoots itself in the foot now. I have a torn rotator cuff. The Large out of pocket expenses keep me from going to an orthopedic or physical therapist. By the time I do go the shoulder will need surgery and it will cost more.

    The State wants wellness bring down the out of pocket costs for Specialists. If a patient could address an ailment sooner than later it is more cost effective.

  6. AdamL

    November 13, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Quizzical — I don’t think I understand your comment. The SHP is not just charging more for people who refuse to try and lose weight or stop smoking. The SHP is charging more for outcomes, that is, it is charging more if you can’t stop smoking or you can’t achieve sustained weight loss.

    Also, there are no projected savings from the program.

  7. IBXer

    November 13, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    “Since we’re stuck with the cost of each other’s care, then we’re all responsible to each other to try to minimize that cost.”

    Not yet. That is the goal, though. Total domination.

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