Want lower health insurance at work? Get Healthier!

That’s what some employers are now telling their people.

What is happening to the cost of health care for employers these days? As you might expect, the cost is going up for all concerned:

Take a look at the chart on the right that appeared in a USA Today article on 4-2-12 (See link below). Since 2007, the total cost per employee has risen from $8597 to $11,664—a 36% increase.

Employees paying more. Ever so gradually, the employees are being required to pay a greater portion of the total. From 2007 to 2012, their share grew by 40%—while the employer’s share went up 34%.

But this is no bargain for anyone. The employer is still paying a whopping $8900 per employee—76% of the total bill. The employer share is now over $400 more than the total cost per employee just five years ago.

Published by BenBella -- October 2011

What about promoting health? As with the cost of health care in general, the obvious answer is still being ignored—our “system” is not teaching anyone how to promote health. The majority of the population still has no clue that “we’re eating the wrong food” and that it’s driving disease and costs of historic proportions. We outlined the “big picture” problem in our book’s Introduction:

In the United States and other Western countries, obesity and diabetes are running rampant, while heart disease and cancer maintain their position as our top killers—and the top drivers of our health-care costs. These out-of-control costs are choking our economy to death, prompting elected officials in the United States to frequently discuss health-care cost as the single biggest problem facing our nation.

In 1960, the cost of health care in the Unites States was 5.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). In less than fifty years, it tripled to 16 percent, and U.S. officials now project that it will double again to 31 percent within the next twenty-five years. This cost is simply unsustainable, and we all know it, but we haven’t yet figured out what can be done to address the problem.

Employers are finally getting wise. As outlined in the USA Today article, they are beginning to provide financial incentives for employees who score well on the various health screening tests. From the article:

Once a year, employees of the Swiss Village Retirement Community in Berne, Ind., have a checkup that will help determine how much they pay for health coverage. Those who don’t smoke, aren’t obese and whose blood pressure and cholesterol fall below specific levels get to shave as much as $2,000 off their annual health insurance deductibles.

Proponents say such plans offer people a financial incentive to make healthier choices and manage chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, which are driving up health care costs in the USA. Even so, studies of the effect of such policies on lifestyle changes are inconclusive. And advocates for people with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, fear that tying premium costs directly to test results could lead to discrimination.

CEO John Mackey is helping his 62,000 employees learn how to take charge of their own health.

The obvious answer. As outlined in my “Whole Foods CEO” blog yesterday, the obvious solution is for employers to aggressively teach all of their employees how to take charge of their own health. And that takes leadership—the kind of leadership being provided by CEO John Mackey of Whole Foods Market. 

(USA Today article) More U.S. employers link health insurance policies to medical tests – USATODAY.com

Want to find out how healthy you and your family are eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, Board of Directors…

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to Want lower health insurance at work? Get Healthier!

  1. Linda201 says:

    I had this very conversation with a checker at Whole Foods yesterday. She was new, and told me that her “ulterior motive” for working there was to learn about healthy eating. I told her that was an admirable goal, to be sure, but she shouldn’t assume that everything in the store is “healthy” because there are at least as many unhealthy products in there as there are healthy products. She was surprised by my comment. I do understand, however, and I explained to her, that Whole Foods really has no choice; there aren’t yet enough of us whole plant eaters to keep them in business. Then, as I always do when presented with the opportunity, I recommended a number of books including The China Study and your book, Jim.

    • jmorrishicks says:

      Thanks Linda, You are so right about the plethora of “unhealthy” items for sale at Whole Foods Market. As with every mainstream grocer in America, my guestimate is that 90% of the calories for sale are not health-promoting. It remains our responsibility to sort through this mountain of unhealthy choices and select from the vast array of healthy produce for our families. But change is coming and it’s encouraging to see the CEO of the nation’s most prominent grocery chain out there leading the way.

      Have a nice Easter, Jim

  2. Jim,

    I don’t get it?

    If John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods is now preaching the plant foods mantra, why do his stores still sell junk foods and animal body parts?

    Sal Liggieri

    • jmorrishicks says:

      Hi Sal, Good question—the same one that I had at first. Then I realized that Whole Foods is a publicly-held company whose shareholders expect them to maximize sales and profits. To do that in the grocery business, they must offer what people want to buy.

      At the same time, John Mackey is helping to influence his employees to learn the truth about nutrition and begin making healthier choices in what they eat. As more people do that, there will be less demand for meat, dairy, eggs and refined carbohydrates. Meanwhile, Whole Foods Market has got to make money. You, better than anyone, know that this transition is not going to happen completely in your lifetime—or mine.

      Best, Jim

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