wellness digest—week of october 31

November 7, 2011

in wellness digest

a roundup of last week’s news that caught my interest.

1. as premiums rise, are even the insured scrimping by skipping doctor visits?

stagnant wages, rising health care costs and increased cost-shifting are taking their toll. more americans are skipping doctor visits, even when they have insurance. with these trends unlikely to reverse themselves, employers must consider how to remove financial barriers to preventive health and disease management services, particularly for low-wage earners who are more likely to already be coping with socioeconomic barriers to health.

“People in the lowest 20% of income cut both insurance spending and care, while those in the second-highest 20% paid more for insurance but sliced out-of-pocket spending on care. The only income bracket to spend more on both was the top 20%.”

2. thomson reuters-NPR health poll finds americans want insurance penalties for unhealthful habits

this monthly poll gauges people’s opinions and attitudes toward different health topics. their most recent poll finds that we’re very comfortable tying risk behavior to higher costs. more than half of the poll respondents were comfortable with smokers paying more for health insurance, and roughly one-third felt the same about the overweight and obese. these results are in line with a towers watson report that found 47% of respondents support employers increasing premium costs for employees who were “unwilling to take steps to manage their illness or lower their health risks.” the thomson reuters-NPR poll also found:


“When asked if they thought it was acceptable to deny employment to overweight or obese individuals, 11.3% said yes.”

3. employee programs teaching health care “consumer” skills may also produce health benefits

a program that taught employees how to evaluate information, make informed decisions and take medications properly showed positive results beyond the curriculum.

“A workplace program designed to teach employees to act more like consumers when they make health care decisions, for example, by finding and evaluating health information or choosing a benefit plan, also improved exercise, diet and other health habits, according to a new study in the latest issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.”

note: the american journal of health promotion is holding their annual conference from april 11 through april 15, 2012, in san diego, CA. it’s a great lineup. i know i’ll be there.

4. limeade industry-first open app & device platform for corporate wellness

in a smart move, limeade released a platform that integrates with many popular health apps and fitness devices: runkeeper, nike+ and all that nike+ supports. this means employees can stick with the self-tracking devices they like while effortlessly integrating their information with limeade’s.

“The Limeade Open App & Device Platform addresses strong employer and health plan demand for easy, fun, social, and externally-validated (versus self-reported) activity tracking and self-improvement solutions. This new functionality extends Limeade’s existing comprehensive wellness and incentive management services with a wide array of new consumer-quality fitness apps and devices. Limeade has previously created similar APIs [application program interfaces] for biometric screenings, incentives, and other features of comprehensive wellness programs.”

5. a C.E.O’s support system, aka a husband

virginia rometty being named as IBM’s CEO-designate last week re-energized our conversation about what it takes to reach the upper echelons of the corporate world, particularly when you’re a woman. for anyone, it requires extreme sacrifice and all-out focus. for women, it also requires a scarce beast: a house husband. this new york times article reviews our ever-present biases about gender roles and how they play into a woman’s ascent.

“The Romettys aren’t the only couple reluctant to discuss the husband’s role in his wife’s success. There’s still a social stigma for the stay-at-home or less successful husband that women don’t face. And management experts say that that has to change if women are going to be represented in the top jobs at a level commensurate with their numbers and talent.”


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