Converse to the usual insurance company policy of increasing premiums for riskier drivers, some employers are now offering to reduce health insurance premiums for employees that take steps to reduce their individual risk for illness. Literally. Virgin Airlines is among these companies. This employer has issued pedometers to interested employees to track the number of steps taken each day. Those meeting previously set goals will find the rewards in their pay checks as well as on the bathroom scales and in increased wellness.
Although a pilot program now, Virgin hopes to reduce its annual health care premiums and pass the savings on to the employees choosing a healthier lifestyle. Currently all employees of most companies are charged the same premiums for the same levels of coverage regardless of lifestyle choices. It has been argued elsewhere effectively that it is easier to choose a healthy lifestyle than it is to attempt to medicate a way out of poorly made choices. Unsaid is that it is also much less expensive for the insurance company, too.
Arguably more money invested in employee wellness will be returned in the form of higher productivity, fewer days off the job, and lower insurance premiums. Passing the difference along to eligible employees will encourage worker buy in and encourage those reluctant to take steps toward wellness to start with small goals. This appears to be the ultimate win-win situation for workers and employers alike.
Providing monetary incentives is one way to improve employee health, another is creating a culture that supports wellness within the company. Everything from the vending machines to worksite yoga can make the difference for those struggling to make healthy lifestyle changes.
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