The world isn’t fair. Some people can eat Twinkies all day, every day and never gain an ounce. Others say they gain just by thinking about food. But fair or not, companies know that obese employees are greater safety risks and much harder on the, ahem, bottom line.
One extensive study pegged the numbers at twice the comp claims, seven times the medical costs from those claims and 13 times as many days lost from work injuries and illnesses.
In other words, the higher the BMI, the lower the ROI.
And here’s where the fairness question gets reversed. Is it fair to make svelte health-conscious employees pay the same insurance premiums as their Devil (Dog)-may-care co-workers?
The great healthcare debate is now framing the question within a larger context: A new study from the Centers for Disease Control says the health cost of obesity in the U.S. is nearly $150 billion a year and rising. One idea: A tax on empty calories. Make people pay extra for “foods” that are virtually nutrition-free (and maybe even give ’em a subsidy on the healthy stuff). It’s worked with cigarettes, say proponents: The combination of education and outrageous taxation has dramatically reduced tobacco use.
What do you think? Should employees who are greater safety risks because they consistently make unhealthy food choices have to pay more, either through higher premiums or higher taxes (or both)? Let us know in the Comment Box below.