Sound Medicine: Why are employers offering health care incentives?

Sound Medicine is a radio show produced by the Indiana University School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio. In the last few years, I’ve become their go-to guy on health policy. So, for those of you who would find your day brightened by the sound of my voice, enjoy the following:

Sound Medicine” health care policy analyst Aaron Carroll, M.D., M.S., weighs in on the actions employers are considering to reduce health care costs. Some companies have begun offering incentives like gym memberships to employees who lose weight; others have raised the cost of insurance for those who smoke. Some, like Honeywell, fine employees up to $1,000 for an elective procedure if they don’t seek a second opinion. According to Dr. Carroll, the companies are offering incentives in hopes of avoiding future costs caused by heart attacks from obesity, for instance, or smoking-related illnesses. But while losing weight or quitting smoking may reward the individual, the company may not save if the employee leaves in a few years, with the insurance savings lost to another employer.

Full audio after the jump



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