Saturday, August 23, 2008

Alabama Penalizes Workers For Not Taking Steps to Improve Their Health

Alabama is ranked second in the nation for obesity rates. Because of the alarming cost of health care, The State Employees Insurance Board has approved a plan (starting in January 2010) to charge state workers if they do not show they are taking steps to improve their own health.

The state will provide free screenings for employees to know their numbers regarding blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose or overweight. After being screened, employees will have one year to see a doctor at no cost, enroll in a free wellness program, or take other steps to improve their health. If employees show any progress in a follow-up screening, they will not be charged. If they do not show progress in improving their health, they will be charged $25 per month for insurance that normally is free. State workers may be charged up to $300 dollars a year for unhealthy behaviors including smoking and being obese. The changes will affect 37,555 active state agency employees covered by the State Employees' Insurance Board.

The Board unanimously approved the changes to Employee Insurance. Alabama will be the first State to charge their workers for being unhealthy while other States have used more positive incentives like rewarding employees who adopt healthy behaviors. It will be interesting to see which approach is more effective in moving people to a healthier lifestyle. or

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