wellness digest–week of december 27

January 4, 2011

in wellness digest

i’m trying something new this month. each week i’ll share a collection of health reading i found intriguing. since i was off last week (and kept to my commitment not to blog), i’m going to start with readings from the week of december 27.

incentivize yourself to good health in 2011

this article references a number of companies that have entered the incentive business. some will be familiar, like virgin healthmiles and unitedhealth group. others, like vitality group and discovery, are probably less so.

Employers, however, are less worried about those people than they are about the sedentary, the overweight and the fried-chicken addicted. A big percentage of the costs employers face for people with diabetes and hypertension springs from behavior, not genetics. So their big question is this: Just how much do they have to pay to get people to shape up enough to make the incentive programs worthwhile?

pro/con: the fairness of health insurance incentives

health policy expert harald schmidt argues against incentives while kevin volpp, director of the center for health incentives, argues their effectiveness. both are very persuasive.

In principle, I think wellness incentives are a good idea. But it all depends on how they are implemented. If the focus is on just reducing the cost of healthcare rather than improving health, then you may have a problem. (schmidt)

One of the things that is unanswered is whether, when you do a program, you should offer awards based on achievement of outcome or effort. The evidence out there suggests that it is less effective to pay for effort than outcome. (volpp)

coupons for patients, but higher bills for insurers

pharmaceutical companies are using coupons that make the cost of buying a brand-name drug cost-neutral for patients, not for employers. at the end of the article, one benefits manager talks about how her company is addressing this new tactic.

Drug companies say the plans help some patients afford medicines that they otherwise could not. But health insurers and some consumer groups say that in many cases, the coupons are just marketing gimmicks that are leading to an overall increase in health care  costs.

the immortal life of henrietta lacks

i got to do more “real” reading on holiday than my typical two-pages-and-i’m-asleep approach. i tore through this book in two days. it’s a poignant, personal story blended with medical history, and it brings to light such massive questions as “who owns your cells?”

any great reading of your own to share?


Leave a Comment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Boese January 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

I like how you committed to not doing something! Very clever.


fran January 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

steve, you know only what gets planned gets done. or not done, in this case. 😉



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