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Save $125 by sharing my "Biometrics"

November 4, 2007

My company came out with a new policy this year. We are required to either take a online personal health assessment and fill in data from our “biometrics” (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.), or pay an extra $125 (per person) in health care premiums. They offered several sessions at work where they would take them for free, and the numbers were self reported.

Being young and relatively healthy, I wasn’t opposed to the idea. Some of my middle aged co-workers were much more wary. Wasn’t this a little bit too “Big Brother” for the USA? One could speculate where they are going with this approach. Next year, they might require those who have high cholesterol to reduce it, or else pay $125. Get your BMI within the healthy range, or else pay $125. Commit to exercise three times a week, or else pay $125.

If they do charge more for people who refuse to make an active commitment to improving bad health, is it fair? No one seems to dispute smokers surcharges anymore. The difference is that some of this is genetics, and can’t be helped. I have naturally high cholesterol, and while I can improve it with diet and exercise, 2/3 of the number is made up by genetics. I would hate to be charged extra for something I have little control over.

The premise of the approach makes me a bit uneasy. However,it also seems like, done the right way, it might be something that will help alleviate health care costs for the country as a whole. You can’t force people to chose healthy lifestyles, but one way to persuade people is to hit them where they will notice–their pocketbooks. If you could lower your premiums by improving your health, or having a legitimate reason why you can not improve, would you? Doesn’t it seem fair that taking care of yourself would lower your premiums?

One immediate benefit of the program was that some people were made aware of their health status. This was particularly helpful for us young people who hadn’t had our blood work done yet, but also for those who are a little afraid of the doctor. Sometimes seeing the numbers is enough to make a small difference.

I’m leaving my company shortly, so I won’t know how this all will play out long term. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this trend continue in my future employer.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 5, 2007 9:40 pm

    You get an insurance premium reduction for auto insurance if you have a safe record–seems like a similar theory.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 13, 2007 1:43 am

    there ain’t no such thing as “naturally high cholesterol.”
    “bad cholesterol” comes SOLELY from animal products.
    just quit eating meat, and your cholesterol level will melt away faster than the US dollar.
    you’ll also be saving quite a bit of cash in the process, if’n you do it right.

  3. SJean permalink
    November 13, 2007 2:04 am

    Um, not true. I barely eat meat, not because I’m vegetarian, but because I don’t care for it much. I don’t disallow it, but it isn’t a staple. I’m quite healthy, at an ideal weight, and run 3 times a week.

    Cholesterol is up to 3/4 genetics based.

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