A reader wrote me asking my opinion on this question. I’ve included her question and my response.
I’m writing a paper on this question: Is it fair for employers to give financial incentives to people who meet certain health targets?
I work in a hospital that gives $30 per paycheck if you meet your targets. Now, $30 to some is a lot of money and I wonder if it’s fair if they don’t have to time or ability to meet this goal.
What about people who have low paying and sedentary jobs or single parents with no extra time, resources or energy to do anything outside of work? Is this incentive fair to them?
We have a fitness center that costs $14/month (which obviously some can’t afford) but again you have to go when you’re not working. I remember NOT having the desire or energy to do anything after work except get my children and try and make supper. Laura G. MPH, BSN Nursing Division
Great question. How can you argue with incentives that encourage people to eat properly and exercise? It’s like motherhood or apple pie.
On the other hand, who sets the “targets” or decides what behavior gets rewards”? It’s relatively easy to quantify and identify smoking cessation or weight loss. But, what about issues such as alcoholism, psych illness or any type of chronic illness or pain syndrome? What targets would you set here?
Even if a worker with chronic illness is “compliant” – goes to the doctor, takes the meds — he/she can still have symptoms that get worse.
Financial rewards for getting healthier are a quick fix response to a large problem that deserves vigorous debate about our healthcare costs and benefits.
WHAT DO YOU THINK about this? Does your company offer financial incentives for health behavior?