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Old 01-26-2010, 07:13 PM   #1  
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Default Whole foods bases employee discount on "health factors"


In a nutshell the company is offering to increase the standard 20% employee discount to up to 30% (there are 4 levels) if you achieve certain indicators of health: non-smoking, low bloodpressure, low cholesterol and BMI. This is supposed to encourage healthy behavior that will lower the company's overall healthcare costs.

Being that this is a Jezebel article the slant is of course how unfair it is to discriminate against high BMI and a standard ramble ensues about the validity of using BMI as a health indicator. I am sure Arnold Schwarzenegger will be listed once again as proof that BMI is radically unsound (why people keep toting a 'roids case as proof.....)

On the one hand I see the "obesity discrimination" argument. On the other hand I wonder why no one is crying "cholesterol discrimination".

With difficulty I can control if I am obese or not. I dont smoke so that is no biggie. But despite me following all the non medication routes for managing cholesterol I am "blessed" with high cholesterol. I exercise more than most and only once in my life did I achieve a normal cholesterol reading and that reading could not be repeated. My HDL is fairly high, although not as high as it used to be, which is why my doctors dont prescribe drugs.

So I control what I can but would pay more for stuff somewhat out of my control? Or I could use the company health plan to buy Lipitor and qualify for the discount. Because I am saving the company money how? And what kind of healthy behavior is this encouraging? Risking side effects for drugs that my doctor currently doesnt think I need so I can save 10% on my groceries? I spend a lot on groceries...that would not be an insignificant amount.

I'm not saying the obesity part is right either. Just that both the program and the knee jerk reaction to it are.

Last edited by ennay; 01-26-2010 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 01-27-2010, 12:59 PM   #2  
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I think it's virtually impossible to come up with a plan that takes everything into account without writing a 500 page manual to go with it I suppose they could just offer nothing. But I hear you. I would be upset if I were excluded for something I couldn't control or that they were wrong about.

Last edited by JulieJ08; 01-27-2010 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:17 PM   #3  
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They aren't taking away a discount though the discount is and always has been 20%. But if you meet the requirements you could get additional discounts. At least it will make people aware of some health issues they may be dealing with. I think it's a good concept. I don't think it will last though, too many people will complain...
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:07 AM   #4  
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The internet has been abuzz about this and as someone who has a BMI in the overweight range I just don't see a problem with it. Sure there are outliers to the BMI test and everyone likes to cite Shaq or Michael Jordan as examples, but really, how many of us with BMIs over 30 are professional basketball players and how many of us are just fat? The same goes for people that have a condition that prevents them from losing weight or have high blood pressure or cholestoral due to genetics. I think this is a great idea. The fact is, people that are overweight, smoke, etc. etc. cost more to insure and since everyone pays the same amount for these employer provided health insurances, both the employer and employees that are not at risk are forced to make up the costs. Sure a massive heart attack could happen to the healthiest of individuals if you are genetically predisposed, but this doesn't take away from the fact that there are risk factors the majority of us can eliminate or at least control that will tremendously increase your likelihood of having health problems.

I would have a problem if they were punishing the smokers or overweight workers, but instead they are rewarding those that are living more healthy and providing incentive for change to those that are not. I just don't see a problem here.
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:48 AM   #5  
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I look sickly when I have a "healthy" BMI. And that was before I was exercising--I'm definitely smaller at the same weight I was before. I've still got some weight to go, but I would be skin and bones if I got down to the middle of "healthy" BMI. When I was "obese," I had a 31" waist. These factors are just way too arbitrary, and I would think if they go through with this program there will be some litigation in their future.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:56 AM   #6  
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A lot of companies have wellness incentives. If people lose weight, lower their b/p, exercise regularly they might get cash or some other reward. I suspect there are political reasons why WF is being looked at by the media instead of the many other companies that have similar incentives.
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