Saturday, October 3, 2009

Is It Your Job To Stay Healthy?

Using my background in sports medicine and seeing the rise of obesity in children and adults, I believe it is OUR job to stay healthy. I highlighted a section from the article because I think Flagg is missing the point. It’s our body! Flagg says we are “putting the costs on patients…it’s the system itself that’s unhealthy.” I believe the system is flawed, but we are the patients who make the choice of what we eat and if we’ll exercise and are contributing to the flawed system when we are unhealthy.

I work two jobs; have a family, house and a baby. Yet, I take time to provide healthy meals, take walks, and go to the gym. Yes I am tired and worn out and yet I find the perseverance to do what is right for my health. Sometimes this means I go to the gym after the baby is asleep, but again, it’s my body and I need to take care of it.

Is It Your Job To Stay Healthy?
Alabama state employees have until Nov. 30 to get screened for chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension if they want to keep their free health insurance. After 2010, those at risk for disease must show that they are taking steps to improve their health or pay $25 each month.

Alabama’s move is just one example of a growing trend nationwide: Businesses are hoping to cut health-care costs by instituting “employee-wellness programs” in which workers are financially rewarded for quitting smoking, getting regular checkups, or losing weight. Some companies are going a step further, penalizing unhealthy employees by deducting more from their paychecks to cover insurance or offering less-generous coverage.

President Obama and other supporters of employee-wellness programs point to the benefits of preventive care, both in terms of quality of life and cost savings: One study found that every $1 spent on such programs saves $1.65 in health-care expenses. But privacy advocates say employees should be evaluated based on their job performance, not fitness level. Besides, says Donna Flagg, a human resources expert, “ Not all obese people are taxing the insurance system. What about a hypochondriac who may be thin but is always at the doctor?” Flagg adds that wellness programs blame the employee instead of addressing the real problem—the high cost of health care. “Why are we constantly looking to pass costs on to the patients?” she asks. “It’s the system itself that is unhealthy.”

Dr. Darwin Deen of Montefiore Medical Center in New York disagrees. “Right now,” he says, “ healthy people subsidize care for everyone else. Some people are asking: If you choose to sit and watch TV while I am out exercising, should I still be expected to pay for part of your health-care costs?”

—Lyric Wallwork Winik

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