With health insurance premiums outpacing inflation for what feels like the hundredth year in a row, employers are looking for innovative ways to cut costs. Failing that, many are eager to share the pain with their employees.
One evolving approach toward that end: wellness programs that help employees improve their own health, which in turn is supposed to drive down insurance claims and costs.
Traditionally, participation in wellness programs has been voluntary—the employer merely provides encouragement and support for employees who wish to shed some pounds or quit smoking.
But the ever-higher premiums have forced the gloves to come off. These days, employers look more like taskmasters than cheerleaders. Evidence that employers have beaten their pompoms into whips is abundant. According to The Wall Street Journal, media giant The Tribune Co. applies a $100 surcharge for each insured worker or dependent who smokes.
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