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wellness digest–week of june 27

July 7, 2011

in wellness digest

a (late) recap of last week’s news that caught my interest.

1. companies get tougher with employees who smoke

last week humana made news with their announcement that they would no longer hire smokers for their arizona locations. this article references many companies trying to stomp the butt with incentives, penalties and out-and-out worker bans.

“Instead of using carrots to encourage smokers to kick the habit, businesses increasingly are wielding sticks. At PepsiCo (PEP), smokers pay an annual $600 insurance surcharge, while publisher Gannett (GCI) charges $60 a month. Some go even further: Union Pacific (UNP) and Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG) refuse to hire smokers.”

2. across europe, irking drivers is urban policy

disrupting our unhealthy patterns or making them extremely inconvenient is one way to get people to change their behavior. it’s a strategy that’s working in european countries to improve health and urban living and meet environmental standards.

“It often takes extreme measures to get people out of their cars, and providing good public transportation is a crucial first step. One novel strategy in Europe is intentionally making it harder and more costly to park. ‘Parking is everywhere in the United States, but it’s disappearing from the urban space in Europe,’ said Mr. Kodransky, whose recent report Europe’s Parking U-Turn surveys the shift.”

3. there is no such thing as a health care consumer

google health gave up the ghost two weeks ago. this fast company article reviews three key reasons why google failed. it’s good reading for anyone who’s considering how to help employees take charge of their health.

“There are three reasons [why google health failed]. But the underlying cause is that there is no such thing as a consumer in the American health care system today. A consumer is someone who uses personal dollars to buy goods and services for his or her own use. In our health care system, the users of medical services are, of course, individuals. But users don’t pay the largest share of costs for these services. Employers, the government, and health insurance companies do. So while people may be highly concerned about quality medical care, most are not motivated to manage costs.
 With that fundamental understanding, it’s easy to see why Google Health failed.”

4. texting smokers doubles quit rates

this article reviews a tobacco cessation study that uses short message service (SMS), your humble text, to help tobacco users quit. the use of the service, txt2stop, doubled the quit rate. SMS-based interventions offer specific advantages for large populations, including reach, cost and personalization.

“The researchers note that mobile phone technology offers an opportunity to provide personalized smoking cessation support and can be delivered to large numbers of individuals at low cost.”

this article requires registration for richer study details. if you prefer to skip that, here’s a time article on the same study.

5. going, going, and gone?: no, the oxford comma is safe…for now

for a moment, there was joy. then, grammatical depression, for the oxford comma remains sacrosanct. for those passionate and a bit off-kilter about the oxford comma and language in general, i give you this NPR article.

“I firmly believe all of that good stuff about our living language, and yet I accidentally hit my own nerve. Love of language, it turns out, is a complicated minefield of things you care about and things you don’t, and one person’s explosive issues are obviously no more valid than anyone else’s. Some people hate Capitalization For Cutesy Point-Making in exactly the same way I hate “irregardless,” but I use it happily. Not as much as I once did, but I do. (Don’t email me about “irregardless” or “literally,” by the way. I glare at your spineless, weak-kneed dictionary with a judgmental, squinty eye. I do! I glare at it!)

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