Workplace Wellness Programs

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New Version of Workplace Wellness Programs: Carrot or Stick?

By Kelley Weiss, CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Kimberley Macgregor, a bookkeeper at a Burbank Ralphs, looks over which “healthy activities” she’ll do to offset her health care costs. She says she didn’t know about the new wellness program until KQED contacted her. (Photo: Kelley Weiss)


Kimberley Macgregor, a bookkeeper at a Burbank Ralphs, looks over which “healthy activities” she’ll do to offset her health care costs. She says she didn’t know about the new wellness program until KQED contacted her. (Photo: Kelley Weiss, CHCF Center for Health Reporting)

Kimberley Macgregor, a bookkeeper at a Ralphs in Burbank, says it’s almost impossible to stay up to date on her health benefits.

She flips through a glossy pamphlet which features an array of fruits and vegetables and a woman meditating. It explains her company’s wellness program.

Macgregor is debating over which of the seven “healthy activities” in the wellness program to choose. She says she’ll opt for a biometric screening that uses a blood sample to check things like cholesterol and blood pressure.

“All and all it’s good for you because it gives you awareness of where you stand when it comes to health issues,” Macgregor says. “Maybe it can catch diseases early so that you have enough time to change it.”

If employees don’t participate in the disease management program their deductible goes up by $500.
Macgregor says she didn’t know everything about the changes to the program this year until I contacted her — and she’s her union’s representative in the Ralph’s where she works. If she doesn’t participate in the program, she’s on the hook for more money.

This year Ralphs is giving Macgregor $375 dollars less to offset her health care costs. But if she does four of the seven “healthy activities” she can earn it back.

Macgregor will then only have to pay $250 dollars towards her $1000 health insurance deductible. But she finds the whole thing a bit creepy. Continue reading