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Work Out or Pay the Price (Literally)

Health care costs a fortune and instead of waiting for officials to make changes, companies such as Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group (PFG), are taking matters into their own hands. What's their idea? They plan on charging less-than-healthy employees higher fees for their health care.

PFG launched its program on Oct. 11 to make employees shape up or pay up. Here's how it works. All employees start off with "enhanced coverage" where they have lower deductibles and co-pays than the "standard coverage." Then the employees agree to a health screening, and if they reach certain scores in all the criteria (like low blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, and healthy BMI), they get to stay on the low-cost plan. If they don't score well on these tests, then they have to agree to work with a health coach (provided by the company), to improve their scores. If a person refuses to take the tests in the first place, won't work with the coach, or slacks off on an exercise program assigned by the coach, then they'll end up paying high deductibles and co-pays.

This is a fairly new approach, and some companies are leery about initiating such programs for fear that they'll upset their employees, or be sued by them. What do you think? Would lower health care costs encourage you to eat right, exercise, and take better care of yourself? Or do you think these types of health care programs are a form of discrimination?


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