Healthy Choices

I am hoping to get some much needed information from others in the Forum. We were hit with an unusually HIGH insurance premium this year. As a matter of fact, we sent our health insurance out for bids and received NO offers for writing our policy. Needless to say we were stuck with our current Insurance provider and whatever they ask for in premium.

It is still early in the year and we are trying to think of Healthy Choices to offer our employees. Does anyone know first of all if it would be legal (HIPPA) if we were to offer an incentive to our employees that if they voluntarily signed up for a weight loss program and they lost say 10% of their BMI or 20% a healthy percentage that next renewal we would offer them a 10% or 20% reduction on their premium contribution?

Just background.. weight is not the reason we continue to huge increases in our health premium however we are a trucking company and the lifestyle of not only our truckers but everyone is that eating quick is easier and often times less expensive than eating healthy.

Any input or insight that you can give me is greatly appreciated.


  • 6 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I believe you can offer benefits for participation in the program, but not for the results of the program. Reason being, obesity can be considered a covered disability, and some people may be unable to lose the weight due to this "disability." Denying them the same benefit because of their disability could be seen as discrimination unless you offer them a viable alternative.

    My general rule is to stay away from rewarding or penalizing anything remotely related to the ADA....

    However, I believe this is a very fine line, and some companies have successfully integrated weight loss incentives into their programs....anyone else from the forum?
  • You can offer premium discounts for participating in health risk assessments and meeting a certain goal, # of points, etc; however, to avoid an ADA issue you must offer the discount to those who participate but are unable to meet the goal due to health reasons. You can require a doctor's certificate stating the ee is unable to meet the goal due to a health problem.

    I was told by an wellness program provider that the maximum difference allowed is 20%.

    You can also offer the discount on a smoker, non smoker basis, so I don't know why you couldn't do it on a bmi basis.

    If you figure out a way to get healthier truckers, please let me know. Between their median age and health status, they are driving our rates through the roof.
  • I recently read an article where the plan was set up to reward those who stuck with the plan, whether their health numbers or weight improved or not. The participants were required to report information, but there was no penalty for the information they reported. It ended up being a very successful plan as more people stuck with the program, and over time did improve their health numbers and weight loss.
  • In this interesting selection of short opinion pieces, today's [I]NY Times[/I] asks whether legislation is needed to protect workers who are obese. An attorney suggests that a legal buffer already exists (GINA), while a geriatrician writes about some things she thinks employers should do. What do you think? tk

  • Do you currently partner with an EAP? If so, your EAP probably has some good ideas on how you can effectively and legally influence your employees' health and lifestyle choices. If you don't have an EAP, your insurance renewal might provide the impetus needed to get one.
  • We experienced a 47% increase last year and the same thing happened to us - no other insurance provider would take us on. I implemented my own little health awareness/healthy choices program to get employees to concentrate on healthy eating habits and exercise. Our company began providing fresh fruit and vegetables available in our break rooms for all employees and suscribed to a monthly health newsletter that was also provided to all employees. These simple measures put emphasis on a more healthy way of life for most, resulting in healthier eating choices, weight loss and routine health awareness. This seems to be working for us right now. However, still struggling with a some ideas to pursuade a few employees to cut the smoking habit. Good Luck!
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