Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Vampire Insurance

My employer wants my blood.

I've been assured that the bleeding will be short and merciful and that it's being done for my own good.

As an incentive, I've been told that if I don't open a vein, my insurance premiums will rise.

Is this a new wave? Read on . . .

The program is similar to others cropping up at companies across the country. It's part of a trend being embraced to cut costs in our broken-beyond-repair health care system.

Early accounts of similar programs, though, seem to show real benefits. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal had a story about a woman in Ephrata, Pa., who credits her employer's program with saving her life. A blood test detected the early stages of thyroid cancer.

Companies like Safeway, Freddie Mac and Molson Coors Brewing Co. all say the programs have significantly reduced health costs by making employees aware of potential problems, such as high cholesterol and heart disease. Those alerts make it possible to treat the conditions before they become severe.

In the Journal story, one company estimated that such early detection curtailed rising health costs by about $1.5 million last year.

Some employers are instituting surcharges for tobacco users. Others are giving discounts for healthy lifestyle where folks have a physical, maintain proper weight & exercise regularly.

Not a bad idea. Why do employers have to use the carrot or stick to get employees to take care of themselves? Why don't we just act like responsible adults?

So we give our blood, surrender our urine and fill out questionnaires in a vain attempt to deny the unavoidable truth: The system is failing us all.

System is failing?

I disagree.

Grow up.


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