Wellness Programs’ Dubious Claims

June 24th, 2013 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

In a Wall St. Journal Op-Ed June 21, 2013, Here Comes ObamaCare’s ‘Workplace Wellness,authors Al Lewis and Vik Khanna take on claims of savings achieved by wellness companies. They write, “Almost every wellness company shows savings by comparing motivated participants in its programs with un-motivated, non-participants-ignoring, for example, the obvious fact that people who want to quit smoking will quit at higher rates than those who don’t regardless of whether an employer offers a program. Another trick is to count only the people who improve – such as smokers who quit, but not quitters who resume smoking…Enough employees resent the intrusiveness of these programs that the National Business Group on Health reports that since 2009 the average employer has had to double incentives-such as cash payments and reductions in insurance premiums – to maintain employee participation. The well-publicized $600 penalty that the drugstore chain CVS levied in 2013 on employees who refused to participate in screenings to measure body-mass index, weight and glucose levels is more typical than not. The average amount that employees forfeit by refusing to participate in wellness programs is $521, according to the National Business Group on Health.”