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January 6, 2015

Why Wellness Scams Cost Employers and Harm Employees

Summary:

The worst sin: continuing a program after the facts show it is a failure.

Photo Courtesy of Tax Credits

This is a headline in an LA Times article: “Why ‘Wellness’ Program Scams Cost Employers and Harm Employees.” The article, written by Michael Hiltzik, is yet another major mainstream media hit on corporate-sponsored wellness.

Hiltzik writes, “Perhaps the most popular fad at large today in the employee health benefit world is the ‘wellness’ program.”

Doubts about the efficacy of wellness are popping up left and right. “Now there’s more evidence that the programs don’t save companies money….”

Hiltzik says,  “Despite these emerging data, the Kaiser Family Foundation has calculated that more than half of all companies with more than 200 workers offer health screening programs; 8% of those offer an incentive to participate or a penalty for refusing.” Wellness can even backfire and harm employees through false positives, etc.

Corporate sponsors of wellness had the noblest of intentions. However, now it’s high time for corporations to take a good, hard, steely-eyed look at their wellness programs.

This is my mea culpa. In my career in managing benefits for large companies, I implemented programs that looked promising but didn’t work. When the facts showed they didn’t work, though, I simply stopped them. The only thing worse than implementing a flawed program is keeping it around when the facts show it is a failure.

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About the Author

Tom Emerick is president of Emerick Consulting and cofounder of EdisonHealth and Thera Advisors.  Emerick’s years with Wal-Mart Stores, Burger King, British Petroleum and American Fidelity Assurance have provided him with an excellent blend of experience and contacts.

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