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Healthcare Reform May Incite Greater Wellness Incentives, Penalties

Healthcare reform has been a hot topic
as groups assess the pros and cons of
potential legislation. Two of the goals of the proposed government program (as
of press time) are to provide medical
coverage to more people—regardless of pre-existing conditions—and to reduce premium costs based on health status. Part of the plan includes giving more power to employers to offer greater
incentives, or charge penalties, based
on employee behaviors.

Currently, many companies offer
various incentives to employees who lead healthier lives. For example, some companies give bonuses for exercise participation, while others lower healthcare premiums based on positive medical
examinations. Many organizations have experienced greater employee productivity and reduced costs as a result. Current regulation states that those incentives are not to exceed 20% of the premium paid by the employer and employee combined. According to an article in The Washington Post (October 16, 2009), the proposed bill would increase that limit to 30% with permission for the government to raise it to 50%. Conversely, the law could more than double penalties companies can apply to those who flunk medical evaluations.

This has concerned some, who state that the legislation would create significant financial burden for those who do not make healthy changes. So as some employees receive benefits for reducing their waist sizes and cholesterol levels, those who do not may face stricter penalties.

Proponents argue that this program will encourage employees to take a more proactive approach. And as stated in the article, this legislation may provide greater ammunition in the fight against obesity.

Do you have an opinion on this topic? If so, e-mail your thoughts to rhalvorson

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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