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Public Employees: What are your thoughts about employers and health insurers providing incentives for wellness behavior?

Comments: 39

I do not think that incentives for wellness behavior by employers and health insurers are a good idea because what happens to individuals that are overweight or participate in risky hobbies or sports? Will they be charged more in health insurance premiums because of the risk they take?

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Hugo Aparicio
AFT 2121
San Francisco, CA

I find behavioral incentives to be questionable. I have known smokers who rarely miss a day of work, and fitness aficionados who use all their sick days every year. With a behavioral incentive program, the smoker would get nothing while the fitness aficionado would get a reward - and that doesn't seem fair. Insurance coverage for wellness activities such as exercise class would be a better approach.

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Beth Doolittle
WDEA 3115
Locke, NY

It will be great , but first they should pay more attention to the coverage and price of the insurance because part time teachers are not able to pay $500 monthly for one member insurance.

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Ines Corrales
UTD
Hialeah, FL

Wellness behavior should be an integral part of pre-service training for doctors, and it should be the foundation of the entire health care industry, outweighing the bottom-line interests of employers.

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robert dobek
uft
jericho, NY

Although it might be a slippery slope, it is worth it for smokers and those seriously overweight. They cost the system just too much money.

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Jeremy Tschudin
Hudson Teachers Association
Chatham, NY

Both should provide incentives for wellness behavior so that people prevent instead of cure diseases such as high blood pressure, heart diseases and other illnesses related to obesity and sedentary life. Why should everybody else pay for the treatment of people who don’t take care of themselves?

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Carlos Amaya
Charleston, IL

Incentives for wellness behavior is being proactive and saves the employer and employee a great deal of money in the long-term. Educating people about ways they can stay fit and healthy overall could reduce debt. If more employers considered this approach and implemented measures for preventative healthcare we would have healthier communities over all and utilize resources more effectively.

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Qiana Williams
Syracuse Teachers Association
Syracuse, NY

As a professor in this subject area, these positive incentives were long overdue, and become cost effective for the system-at-large. That metaphorical ounce of Health Care prevention truly becomes worth more than the (British) pound (or US dollar !) of cure !

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Prof. P J GAMMARANO`
UFT
Brooklyn, NY

I am a school nurse. I want all insurance companies and health care providers to offer reduced rates for non-smokers, regular exercisers,and people who maintain their health by following doctor's orders and taking medication as ordered. I would like school districts to offer discounts to community centers for the purpose of fitness.

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Paula Kershaw
Paula Kershaw
Flower Mound, TX

I believe that employers could provide a real motivator for everyone and create a positive team approach within a school or organization in providing incentives for wellness behavior. Individuals could be recognized both finacially and within a school for attaining health goals. Everyone benefits from positive reinforcement.

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Cindy Mefford
Dow, IL

If providing incentives will help people to keep themselves healthy, I support this. Preventitive health care should be a part of everyone's life style.

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Mary Willmott
SVFT/4200 A
Meriden, CT

I think if incentives have any documented evidence that they work that we should do all we can to get people to eat well and exercise more. There are too many public employees with high blood pressure, diabetes and other conditions that can be helped by good health habits.

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Edwina Zagami
Chapel Hill, NC

I believe INCENTIVES are wonderful, as long as they really are incentives and not punishment. People need a reward every now and again; the idea of lowering premiums or returning some money if a person lives a healthy life is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, what results right now is that people who don't fit the mold have to pay more. We need to be careful about using body-mass indices; many of these rating systems are flawed because they do not take into account body differences.

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Miriam Ben-shalom
Local 212
Milwaukee, WI

Wellness such as vaccinations for everything should be covered. Psychiatric help should be covered. Chiropractors, accupuncture, exercise center and rehabilition, too.

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peter hatch
PVFT
Aptos, CA

Inexpensive prevention is so much better than expensive treatment. Simple life-style changes can make a huge difference in how much medication people need to take and how well they feel.

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Veronica Brown
UFT
Brooklyn, NY

Incentives for "wellness" behavior sounds like a WONDERFUL idea. Many insurance companies do not pay for even proven prevention activities, such as Diabetes Education. Payment for Smoking Cessation classes, and other programs which will help wellness will help all of us, as well as the long term costs of health care. HOWEVER, there is another side that needs to be examined. Incentives for "wellness" behaviors can become punishment for bahaviors defined as "non-wellness" behaviors. How can we know if someone's obesity is "their choice" or genetic. Persons with a history of strokes, or cancer could be "accused" "anti" wellness behavior.

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Susan A. Titus
Union of Part Time Faculty, Local 477
Detroit, MI

Here' a thought: Why can't health insurers refund client payments when clients don't make insurance claims, due to good health?

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Elmaree Newson
dft231
West Bloomfied, MI

Great idea. We had such a program in Brevard County, FL, and I made good use of it. Now I am retired and living in CA and miss the local benefits.

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Marion Pickett
Brevard Federation of Teachers Retired
San Jose, CA

I think the British and Swiss models are something we should consider-school faculties are superb opportunities to model healthy behaviors for communities.

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Denise Androvette
Syracuse Teacher Association
Syracuse, NY

To the extent that incentives encourage people to lead healthier lives, such incentives may well help reduce health care costs for our whole country.

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D Michael Byler
Faculty Federation of CCP
Philadelphia, PA

I think incentives for healthy living are not only a good idea but that they are only fair. A person who maintains a healthy diet and exercises regularly should not pay the same medical insurance premiums as a person who overeats and does not exercise.

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Carl Amick
CorpusChristAFT
Corpus Christi, TX

Waste of time & money. Patients listen to their doctors, not insurance companies! Give the money to research!!!

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Irene Hendricks
IRTA Unit 90
THE VILLAGES, FL

I agree with the concept. Employers and insurers need to work together to make sure, though, that we're getting the best beneift for the dollars spent. I also believe there needs to be an insurance premium surcharge for everyone who smokes, or is overweight (or under), or has other controllable health risk factors. Bike commuting should merit a premium rebate!

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Jeffrey Schimpff
Wisconsin Science Professionals
Madison, WI

I think that it is a great idea!!!

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Steve Schirmer
PEF
Baldwinsville , NY

Absolutely a spot-on idea, but one that labor unions need to be dragged to accept, kicking and screaming, because innovative ideas to lower costs and increase efficiency R-NOT-US. I have proposed just such ideas in the past for endorsement by my union (the Public Employees Federation) as convention resolutions and, as one might cynically expect, those ideas were shot down without so much as the dignity of a debate on the merits of the ideas. When union members wonder where the "squeeze" comes from that now compromises their salaries and benefits, they may need to look no further than the failure of their own imaginations.

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James Close
Public Employees Federation
Mechanicville, NY

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