Passing on the costs of unhealthy behavior

I mentioned it in a blog post a few days ago, but apparently, companies can now screen employees for something like smoking if they have a published policy.  [I don’t know all the details.]

The Cleveland Clinic won’t hire anyone who smokes anymore and Scott’s gives you six months to quit smoking or you get fired.  (Based on the fact that it costs about $3,400 more per year to employ someone who smokes.)

I asked a friend of mine at a large insurer this week who verified that they are getting lots of requests from employers around smoking.  Most companies are trying to figure out whether they discourage smoking or simply pass on the costs to the smoker.  This begs the obvious carrot or stick discussion in terms of motivation.

It made me wonder what would be next.  Obesity would seem like the condition that companies would want to address since it is tied to so many diseases and drives so much cost.  Maybe a BMI sliding scale for healthcare costs.  Of course, you would need to have some type of test to exclude people who were genetically pre-disposed or medically not able to control their weight. 

Whatever approach was taken, there is a lot to driving positive behavior.  A blog entry on Consumer Focused Care does a great job of talking about this.  He talks about how a group of maids became healthier simply by being told that their work (e.g., scrubbing floors) was equal to the recommended daily exercise.  There is a power in being positive and helping people realize what they can do to make a difference. 

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