Wednesday, January 08, 2014

PepsiCo's workplace wellness plan did not impress

In the most comprehensive study of employer wellness plans ever published (J of Health Affairs, Jan), Rand Corp researchers concluded that the seven-year PepsiCo wellness plan had not saved the company more than it cost.

Such plans are a $6 billion a year industry. They promise to cut absenteeism and reduce medical costs by preventing expensive illnesses. They help people quit smoking, lose weight, and screen for cholesterol, BP, cancer and other conditions.

Half of employers with more than 50 employees had these in 2012. They are also a mainstay of Obamacare.

Sometimes the programs push people in by penalties, other times by cash incentives.

Many employees think they are too pushy--requiring self-exam of testicles every month or asking whether a worker plans to get pregnant. Even requiring young people to get cholesterol screening seems like a waste of money and time.

PepsiCo did not comment.

It was also pointed out that company disease management programs--such as having a nurse call diabetics every month--yielded a payoff of $136 per person by avoiding as many hospitalizations.

I heard recently about a guy who was gigged an extra $100 a mo for insurance from his employer because he had not seen his doctor twice in the past year.

We used to have Big Brother. Now we have Big Doctor.

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