How the Cleveland Clinic arrested health care cost growth for its employees

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    Oct 16, 2011 4:05 PM GMT
    How? By making, cajoling, practically mandating them to be healthier, cutting smoking, unhealthy dietary habits and promoting exercise: one sense, the clinic has achieved the health policy ideal: cutting health-care costs by making people healthier. But consider how the clinic has done it — tying premiums to personal decisions, firing smokers, tracking employee metrics, eliminating popular sodas and foods from campus. By making it harder and more expensive for employees to be unhealthy, the clinic has radically overstepped the traditional, laissez-faire approach of employers to their workers’ personal habits.

    It also opens the door to onerous forms of discrimination. The clinic no longer hires smokers. Will the obese eventually face similar hurdles? What about fans of fast food?

    The experiment might work at a famed medical center where the CEO plausibly argues that aggressive leadership in health care is central to the institution’s mission. But would it work at General Motors? Caterpillar? Wal-Mart? Medicaid and Medicare?

    Roizen thinks it can — and should. He estimates that an aggressive program could cut federal health spending by $300 billion to $600 billion a year. If he’s right, then simply instituting such wellness reforms could cut the federal deficit by far more than the Simpson-Bowles commission or the congressional supercommittee would.

    Roizen has even proposed legislation to create a Medicare pilot that sidesteps at least some of the concerns about government intrusion. Participation by Medicare recipients would be voluntary, with improved health leading to an increase in a participant’s Social Security check.

    Sigh, I wish I get a rebate for my gym membership. icon_lol.gif
  • dancedancekj

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    Oct 16, 2011 6:06 PM GMT
    *Insert comment about infringing on personal liberties, having the right to be fat and eat what I want because it's no one's business blah blah*

    That being said, I think that it is interesting that it is expecting more accountability, and at the same time is managing their health in a very strict way. I like the program, and think a lot of companies could see great results from it. I don't think it would be manageable on a national level, and there are many situations that would cause it to backfire of course. But overall, I'm glad to have seen the great results and hope some companies use it as a model.
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    Oct 16, 2011 6:43 PM GMT
    There is a lot of merit to this. I respect the personal accountability to the larger community that bears the cost of healing their sick, making it a two-way obligation.

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    Oct 16, 2011 7:45 PM GMT
    theantijock said
    q1w2e3 saidSigh, I wish I get a rebate for my gym membership.

    If you think that's no fun, just wait until you sign up for private insurance only to find that they don't charge premium rates according to body fat composition but by BMI.

    So the more you bulk up at the gym, the more you weigh per your height, the higher are the premiums you pay into the healthcare system.

    Well, I'm going to show them my Wii Fit BMI graph and use it as proof that I just lessened my chances of dying in the hospital simply by going from underweight to normal.icon_lol.gif
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    Oct 16, 2011 7:49 PM GMT
    But seriously, nothing works like motivation when money is involved. Shame certainly hasn't--people wear their weight with pride I hear, at least some people in NJ do on TV. Information (even when spoonfed) leads to overload and apathy. I'm all for personal freedom, but when one's freedom impinges on others (like this guy who impinged me on the plane because he didn't buy 2 seats), there's got to be a price. You're free to do whatever you want, at a price.

    As somebody says so frequently here, freedom isn't free.