Do healthier employees lead to increased productivity? Several progressive companies believe so and have committed to providing employees with programs to help engage them in a healthier lifestyle.
As part of the incentives to lead a healthier lifestyle some employers have instituted a penalty and reward system tied to the companies’ benefits. For example, smokers may incur a significant surcharge to the cost of their health insurance plan while nonsmokers could see a reduction in cost.
According to an article in The New York Times, a growing numbers of companies including Home Depot, PepsiCo, Safeway, Lowe’s and General Mills are seeking higher premiums from some workers who smoke, similar to Wal-Mart’s addition of a $2,000-a-year surcharge for some smokers.
Now three of his friends have written essays about this important issue:
We who’ve worked on it hope it will provoke thought about how healthcare is changing because of what e-patients can contribute, empowered as individuals and enabled by the Internet. To start that process, we’re publishing the introduction.
Three friends and mentors generously offered introductory essays. These essays they have little to do with my story, and everything to do with howe-patients can help heal healthcare:
It’s interesting to see how different things are over at The Health Care Blog. First, it’s different to have to write “health care” instead of healthcare. I personally am all for not using up or resources by adding the space between the two words. Ihaveconsideredeliminatingspacesaltogether, but it gets confusing. Iwon’tdothat.
One of the big differences I see is the perspective of the readers and commenters. I write here for a group of people I largely consider friends, cohorts, or at least sympathetic to my cause. After all, people are coming here by their own volition (I assume nobody is getting this blog forced upon them as some sort of punishment, although that may be a bad assumption). But the readers at THCB (as we insiders call it) are much more argumentative and much more likely to be “experts” in the area of healthcare delivery. Certainly the other folks writing there are far more sophisticated than me (not that that’s a hard thing), and are much more well-read in the area of HC reform. The debates in the comments section are quite stimulating, although sometimes you have to wipe a little blood off of your screen. Read more »
I was a panelist at Edelman’s CHPA New Media Summit today in New Brunswick, NJ. Matthew Holt (of the Healthcare Blog and Health 2.0) was the keynote speaker, and I participated on a panel discussion with Dr. Roy Poses. It was exciting to meet Roy in person for the first time, as I’ve been following his policy blog for some time.
Matthew presented a very rosy picture of Health 2.0 (consumer-driven healthcare), more or less suggesting that it could provide a large part of the solution to our current healthcare crisis. I countered with a more cautious view, explaining that expert engagement would be critical to Health 2.0′s success.
I explained to the audience that association does not prove causation (E.g. Do matches cause lung cancer? No, though it’s true that people who smoke are more likely to carry matches). I also described a case in which a Health 2.0 principle went terribly awry: a group of consumers were asked to rate their medications for efficacy by disease/condition. This was supposed to leverage the “wisdom of the crowds” to determine which medicines worked best (by popular vote). Of course, the result was that every pain syndrome (low back pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, etc.) resulted in a narcotic pain medicine as the highest ranked treatment option. Do you really need Oxycontin for that tension headache of yours? Obviously, narcotics are popular among users – but are a last resort for pain management in the real world. The “wisdom of crowds” rarely works in healthcare.
Matthew agreed to disagree with me on a number of issues – but we certainly found common ground on the primary care crisis. He and I both believe that a shortage of primary care physicians is going to result in a catastrophic shortage of care for Baby Boomers in the next decade. Dr. Poses added that primary care physicians make the same salary as school teachers in his home state of Rhode Island.
I think we have to agree with KevinMD – the way forward is not going to be pretty.
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