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Paul Carroll, CEO

Editor's Note by Paul Carroll

The latest Al Lewis article deserves some comment both because it is a remarkable piece and because it marks a step in the evolution of ITL.

As Lewis has made amply clear in his books and in previous pieces at ITL, he has done the math and determined that wellness programs don’t make sense. They don’t save the money that proponents contend they do. Nor do they deliver the health benefits that are claimed for them.

Lewis makes a compelling argument. But our philosophy at ITL is that nobody is as smart as everybody, and, by “nobody,” we mean not even Al Lewis. So I have been trying for some time to get closer to the truth by asking proponents of wellness programs to respond to him and other critics. Thus far, I have no takers.

In early January, I contacted both authors of the seminal piece in Health Affairs that proponents of wellness cite as evidence of effectiveness, but both declined to engage with Lewis or other critics. They said that their research had moved in different directions and that they no longer focused on wellness. I also contacted the Business Roundtable, which appears to be the biggest corporate supporter of wellness programs. I was promised a response from a policy expert, but no one ever got back to me. Now that Lewis has singled out Safeway as making false claims, I have contacted Safeway, too, and will update both this piece and Lewis’ if the company responds.  I’m not optimistic, because I can’t find any record that Safeway responded to a Page One article in the Washington Post in 2009 that said the claimed savings occurred three years before Safeway implemented the wellness part of its health program.

Still, I believe in debate and would love to find someone — or many people — who will defend wellness. If no one will defend it, then all wellness programs should end forthwith, right?

More broadly, you will see ITL increasingly zero in on big topics and try to help our thought leaders drive change. You will see multiple authors weighing in often on important topics and see us encourage debate. We don’t believe in the kind of debate that generates more heat than light—we didn’t like Jerry Springer even when he was mayor of Cincinnati — but we think we can provide a platform that will generate real insight while everyone stays seated on their chairs, rather than throwing them at one another.

Given my background in writing about information technology and the strategic challenges and opportunities it has been creating for more than two decades, you will see more calls to action like this recent one: 2014: The Future is Coming at You Faster than You Think. You will also see more pieces warning of the prospects of competition from nontraditional sources such as Amazon or Google. And you’ll get lots of advice, of course, on how to be prepared, such as is in my recent book: The New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups.

You’ll see us focus even more on ways to cut healthcare costs and to bring more order to the world of workers’ comp. We’ll dive deep into the issues of cyber liability. And we’ll count on our thought leaders to point us to little-noticed but important problems such as the one with Medicare Set Asides that Bob Wilson recently brought to our attention.

As always, welcome to the conversation.

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Paul Carroll is the Chief Executive Officer and Editor of Insurance Thought Leadership. Paul spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter getting about as broad an exposure to the world of business and to senior executives as the paper could provide. The paper nominated him twice for Pulitzer Prizes. He was a finalist once. If you would like to contact Paul, please send him an email.

Read our recent press release regarding Paul Carroll's appointment as our CEO

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