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Speak Up: Docked Paycheck For High BMI?

Clarian Health, an Indianapolis-based hospital system, recently announced that starting in 2009, it would fine employees $10 per paycheck if their body mass index (BMI) is over 30. If their cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels are too high, they'll be charged $5 for each standard they don't meet. And if they smoke, they'll be charged another $5 in each check. Depending on their level of health that could mean some employees are out $30 per paycheck. Clarian's reasoning? They are already seeing that unhealthy employees are costing them more than their healthy counterparts in the end due to rising health-care costs.

Clarian's penalty approach is paving the way for the new wave of health. Previously, most companies rewarded employees for doing well, rather than penalizing them for doing bad. Interesting idea, but will it fly?

What do you guys think? Is this a fair approach? Would it convince you to get healthy? Would you like to see more employers taking this approach? Speak up and share your opinions in the comments section below.

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amber_castaldo amber_castaldo 9 years
This is so crazy. I don't know how I feel about this, it's unfair because they are discriminating against all the over weight people however their really only asking them t o pass a physical.
hexentanz hexentanz 9 years
I see a growing trend of people killing themselves just to get to work without seeing a paycut, not to mention a wave of eating disorders popping up.
Allytta Allytta 9 years
i totally agree. i'm a believer in healthy living and trying to educate my peers... but a lot of them and older people say that they don't really care until they get some kind of serious condition... and a fat doctor is something strange. of course, there might be doctors with thyroid problems and others... but some of them are just over-eaters. it's not really believable, when your doctor tells you to lose weight to be healthier, but him/herself sits on his/her ass and does nothing. well, it might be unfair in some situation, but anyway this will make everybody try even harder to get helahier. right? if do not succeed - oops... i think there should be a posibility to go to court and apeel this matter of there's no way of losing the weight, or getting the cholesterol down. but there should be proof that they tried hard enough. this scheme should be used everywhere in the world. but sometimes i think it's good there are fuller people and the number is raising, healthy people are more visible and appreaciated, so we now have more possibilities. it's a pitty that less fortunate people get left out in the shadow, but that's life. and as funny as it may seem :)
Schaianne Schaianne 9 years
Is that even constitutional??
tralalala tralalala 9 years
I just want to say, I do have hypothyroidism, and it does make you gain weight more easily than regular people. HOWEVER, it doesn't make it impossible to lose weight. Yeah, it's a little harder, but not impossible. Not only that, but there are pills you can take that regulate your thyroid, and even though chances are you'll be on them for the rest of your life, they work. They work well. So even though it is a reason to gain weight, it's not an excuse to not lose. And on top of that, losing weight can actually help you get your thyroid in check. Not only that, I'm super anemic, and allergic to iron supplements, so I have significantly less energy than most people. So no more excuses people! If I can lose weight, so can you haha. The only people I know of who are genuinely unable to lose weight without medical intervention, are people with cushings disease, which is when your body produces way too much cortisone.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
Crazy Minky- If people want to ignore responsibility for weight gain, that's their prerogative. It's not up to companies to take a patriarchal position that they know what's best for their employees, and then dock their pay as a result.
crazy-minky crazy-minky 9 years
That was a truly moving and insightful rant. You've openned my eyes. Insurance companies, evil? Whaaaaa? Capitalism finding its way into healthcare. Oh man. No way. I just can't believe it. But seriously, lets get back to the issue at hand here. People trying to defer responsibility for their weight gain. Its lame. Sure there is thyroid which affects what, 1 in 50, 1 in 70? I'm not sure. But I know it doesn't affect 2 in 3. And and also paragraphs make your comments much less painful to read.
BalancedBabe7 BalancedBabe7 9 years
Crazky Minky, In the US insurance companies do not like to cover people even with diseases they cannot control. There are many insurance companies that will not insure a person "who has a pre-existing condition". That means from MS, Parkinson's, Cancer, etc. There are also many needed treatments for such diseases that insurance companies refuse to pay for- they would rather people get sicker. "Whats next, if we get cancer!?!?!" comments don't really make sense." Well, in reality they do. Look at the health care system in America. Also look at the billion dollar tobacco industry. In the last few years they have put out "advertisements" to deter smoking, only because they were forced to by the FDA. However, they are making the product stronger to make more people addicted. Look at the food industry. Look at all the trans fats in foods, not for any other reason than to "make it last longer", when its just cost cutting techniques. These are two examples of what the US government knows goes on, but does nothing because they are getting money. Yes, people who suffer from diseases like MS, Parkinson's and cancer do suffer in the workforce. No they do not get charged for it-- they don't get hired because of it because they are seen as a liability for insurance and $ purposes. The companies know that pre-existing conditions will end up costing their companies millions of dollars. So to your comment yes, it does make sense. This health care company just gave an idea to people on the big business arena. That idea is hey you have something wrong with you and you want to work here- you have to pay us. Again discrimination. What if they said that to every woman, every minotity. HA,the melting pot and the statue of liberry-- more like who has more money and where can we get more. This measure would only be fair if everyone paid a "tax" for ALL unhealthy behavior. That means anyone having a donut or danish at a morning meeting-- tax, who doesn't go to the gym or walk at lunch hour-- tax, anyone having chips with their lunch-- tax, anyone going for a ciggy break--tax, anyone who drinks alchol---tax, the list can go on.But then again I do think that in 1776 the US got its freedom from England, and there was that little thing -- oh what was it called- oh, yea the Boston tea party. Tax the big businesses because they are the reason why people are becoming unhealthy-- long hours, lower pay, higher living costs, unhealthy air, water, food, etc.
Marci Marci 9 years
I have issues with anyone telling anyone else how to live their life. Whatever happened to living in the land of the free - able to live without dictatorship? This is certainly dicatating how people can live their lives.
calamityjen calamityjen 9 years
Ugh. Clarian is so big on public image that you'd think they would have realized what bad PR this is. This kind of thing is exactly why I won't ever work at any of the Clarian hospitals. They might pay better, but I'll take a lesser-paying job at a hospital that wants to boost its employees' morale, not crush it with penalties and fines. Surely this is legally wrong somehow??? I agree that being overweight is unhealthy, but damn. That's MY business, NOT my employer's. I know quite a few people who work in the Clarian system...I'll have to ask them how they feel about this. Ugh. Way to give Indy a bad name. Stupid Clarian.
sparklestar sparklestar 9 years
Unless you have thyroid problems, in which case losing weight is sometimes just not possible.
crazy-minky crazy-minky 9 years
And obviously everything listed here was stuff that you could control. "They're charging us for our smoking and poor eating habits. Whats next, if we get cancer!?!?!" comments don't really make sense. You see, diseases you can't control, that is what health insurance is there to cover. At least I imagine. I mean, I am Canadian, its different here.
crazy-minky crazy-minky 9 years
I think the most frustrating thing I've read in these comments is the continuous "Overweight people can't help it. We're predetermined to be this way genetically". People have been riding that one way too hard. Its hardly true as well. People just need to buckle down and lose the weight. High premiums or not. If I was overweight this would be a slap in the face and a wake up call, not a chance for me to complain about discrimination. Our standards of weight loss of are so messed up right now. Self control and exercise go a long way. Seriously.
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
If you start docking pay for things that are testable, as one poster wrote, where does it stop? Some insurance benefits pay for medical treatment for STDs or prenatal care. What if a company doesn't like the fact that a woman becomes pregnant without being married or someone contracts and STD and can have their pay docked or be fired. I agree that society as a whole should be healthier and should have access to health care, but where does the invasion and control over people's individual rights and choices end. An Orwellian society isn't one I want to live in. There are other ways to cut health care costs without companies docking groups for personal choices. Something like this can open Pandora's Box of possibilities for interference that I simply do not desire. It's about individual rights and how they are being eroded, not an issue of fat or thin. Think about it.
llh1789 llh1789 9 years
Completely fair.
tralalala tralalala 9 years
I don't think this is a terrible idea... although initially I would feel bad about being penalized for my weight, I sure as hell would work out a lot harder haha. But, I think overall health should be taken into consideration. It shouldn't just be obese people, more like anyone with high risk behaviour. If they're going to charge people for being fat, they should charge people for smoking, any drugs use, abusing alcohol, basically, anything bad that can be tested for. If a disease or illness is self induced, people should have to pay for it on their own, the company shouldn't be held responsible.
Makeuplovingirl Makeuplovingirl 9 years
For one thing, Clarian would not be charging people who are simply overweight (BMI of over 24.9) but obese (over 30). Some of you are saying the BMI is flawed. But how many women/men do you know who have a BMI of over 30 that is all muscle? I know exactly one, my fiance's uncle and he is a bodybuilder. It's very rare and in that way I don't believe the BMI system is flawed, since most of us are not professional athletes. The reason they are not implementing such things as nutritionists on hand and discounted gym memberships is that it would cost them money, and there's no guarantee that those who needed to use them (everyone really) would use them. They're trying to save money, not spend more. There is the argument that some who are obese are genetically so, but then how do you explain the sharp rise in obesity in the past 20-30 years? Our genes haven't changed...environment has.
BalancedBabe7 BalancedBabe7 9 years
Melissa Rae, you are part of the reason for measures like this. Not you personally, but your ignorance. Not all people who are obese are lazy and slobs... heck thats a form of discrimination. Haven't we been through this before all women are_, all African Americans are_, all blondes are_, all Irish are_, all people with handicaps are_... give me a break. Granted there is a small percent of obese people that are just lazy and those are the ones show cased on tv- why- because they make good tv. There are many obese people who cannot afford veggies and fruits because they are single parents and are living paycheck to paycheck. There are those who have serious medical conditions, which have nothing to do with their weight and they cannot lose weight or it is hard for them to lose weight even if they eat dry salads. Oh and not to mention that not all obese people do gastric bypass, lipo, or lap band. They do try to lose weight the good ole fasioned way.And they do succeed- ever see the Biggest Loser, Celebrity Fit CLub, etc. Oh and then there are those who use food to stiffle their emotions just like a drug or alcholic abuser. Don't forget that portion sizes are gigantic now- look at a can of coke or a diet coke one can is really 2 servings.. Gatorade one of their bottles is 4 servings... the list can go on. You need to understand that not all people are anything- just because it is highlighted on tv- doesn't mean its so. Look at the coined term "welfare mom" and that image or people on SSDI. The reality is there may be some people who take advantage of the systems, but the hard cold reality is it is like less than 1%. The people who need the system often get denied and denied and denied- why- just because money will have to go out instead of in. I've seen it from a woman who had real bad cancer and was in the hospital and all more than anything. She applied for SSDI because she could not work, but still needed to pay her bills. She applied and 7 times they denied her. Just for the simple fact that they don't want to pay out. On the 8th time she finally got it. It seems like you are angry at your co-workers and taking it out on all people whom happen to be obese. Don't make generalizations unless you know what is what. Oh and the insurance premiums are high because insurance companies want you to pay them, but they do not want the money to go to you-- look at all the people in Louisiana with the floods. The Insurance company took their money and they did not want to pay to help the people who were effected by the floods repair their homes, same goes on in Florida with the hurricanes/tropical storms/tornadoes. This goes for all insurances from health, to home, car- you name it it happens. Now on the health care issue. Drugs are so expensive because they have their hands in the preverbial cookie jar of the FDA. To be in the FDA you need to be elected, which means you need money to get elected. This equals the drug companies soliciting the FDA members to allow their drug no matter its effectiveness, potential dangers, price, etc. And the FDA members are lapping it up. Do you honestly think they are checking our food products??? hmmm.. how many ecoli and other diseases were found in our food - just in the past year. What about drugs??? Let's see there are very few that were pulled off the market, while so many have reported cases of seriously harming people- and they are still on the market. It's all about the money!!! This company knows that there is a health crisis out there. This company knows that they can cash in on it. But what they don't realize is that it may cost them more because of a little thing known as class action lawsuits. Discrimination lawsuits do cost more than the average lawsuit. This company is contribuiting to the problem- not helping it. If an obese person needs a job there does this company think that charging them more is going to help??? Hmmm its like saying to an alcoholic well if you drink we are going to charge you $100. Heck, that alcoholic will beg - borrow or steal to get the $100 and still drink. This example rings true with smokers the cigarette companies are up to $$$ per pack and there is that niffty little tax on them-- guess what people are still smoking. The more restrictions are put on something people will want it more-- look at all the under 21 people chugging their alcholic drinks. This company needs to get a clue!!!!
Katikins Katikins 9 years
I worked for a company that gave a $50 incentive if you completed 9 items throughout the year to be healthier. It was an honor system and sure, people abused it, but for the truly honest you could get an extra $450 at the end of each year! Most of them were very simple (going to get your cholestoral checked - and they didn't care about the number just that you went and were aware of your health!) The harest thing was participating in the mini-marathon (yep I live in Indianapolis, the wonderful home of Clarian "Health"). This idea is terrible. And anyone who said it's a lawsuit waiting to happen is right. Shame on Clarian for treating their employees this way. They are supposed to be in the business of making people healthier, not treating them like lepers b/c they aren't up to some kind of random "standar". Ok - way too many "" marks in this one, but these people are a joke!
miss-beca miss-beca 9 years
that's horrid. what about people who get diagnosed with expensive diseases that they have no control over, like MS, or cancer, or cerebral palsey? should they be fined, too? after all, their health care costs do drive up the numbers for the rest of us. and how does taking money away from me motivate me to get healthy? in case no one has noticed, gym memberships and healthy food are not cheap! i am working very hard to get myself in shape. i got a discounted gym membership through my company, and it's one of the best things they have done for me. companies could also do things like offer more flexible hours so people could work out during the day, provide "weight watchers at work" for discounted prices, etc. and why don't insurance companies cover weight loss options? they could choose to cover preventative care, but they don't. they CHOOSE to wait until people get sick. and it's a darn shame that companies like Clarian are cashing in on that.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
Melissa Rae- your insurance premiums are high because the insurance companies are greedy for-profit nightmares that would like to collect the highest premiums possible but never pay out any benefits. If everybody around you was suddenly fit and healthy, do you think your insurance premiums would go down? And what if you began to have health problems? From your attitude about your coworkers, it seems that you would be okay with being condemned as the source of all of their insurance woes. If Clarian is paving the way for the new wave of health, we should all be terrified. If companies can dock you for having a high BMI, where does it end? Can they test your DNA to see if you are susceptible to genetic diseases? Can they not hire you or provide you with insurance? What if you carry genes that could cause a problem in your offspring? Can they refuse to cover your pregnancy? Where does it end?
jessy777 jessy777 9 years
I know that people see overweight individuals as lazy and gross and that is why it ok to make fun of them. Also that society views weight at something that can change but there are people who feel the same way about religion and sexual orientation but it is considered politically incorrect to say negatives about these groups. Yet saying someone is lazy and gross is acceptable. Shame on you. I work with many people who are not "healthy" and I pay $20 for all my coverage this is very adequate. It sounds like the company that is having employees pay $140 is trying to be too comprehensive or hasn't actively looked for a way to pass savings onto their employees. My company found a way to get people the coverage they need without added cost, including offering more than one plan. Before anyone says anything we are not a big company just one that cares. National programs need to be put in place to help the nation be more healthy and fit. Austin, TX has city-wide Fit campaigns that encourage and help everyone get active. It is our goal to be the healthiest city in the USA and we are really close. Education needs to start in young children. As a law student I agree this is a lawsuit waiting to happen and the claimants will win. Right or Wrong!
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
I think instead, they should offer a gym memberships, have a gym in the building (my brother's work does- jealous!), support groups, and reward the people who use their services like they would reward carpoolers/ride share. I can see maybe penalizing smokers, but there are times when people are fat or sick from something other than overeating. Weeding them out would be hard, and if you penalize them with the people who are just fat they're gonna be PISSED.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
I pay the same amount for my insurance melissa rae-and everyone i work with is fit. Also, how about you stop generalizing all obese people as lazy and gross? i walk to work, walk home, ride metro, etc etc and i am still obese...and i dont' eat chips for breakfast and i don't polish off whole pizzas. not everyone is lazy, and certianly not gross.
Melissa-Rae Melissa-Rae 9 years
They can't give positive rewards to people. They're doing this to CUT costs. Fat people are costly. Period. I work with a lot of older, lazy, obese women. They sit at their desks and eat bags of chips for breakfast and polish off whole pizzas. I pay $140 a month for my health insurance. I don't have any dependants or spouse my insurance - just me. $140 is absurd. Why so high? Because the fat people at my work go and get gastric bypass surgery and then gain all that weight back and have digestive problems and require tons of visits to the doctor and specialists and medications and tests and this and that. I'm sick of being penalized because people are lazy and gross.
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