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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Get a Checkup or Lose Your Insurance

How far can a firm go to improve the health of its employees? AmeriGas Propane's insurance costs were rising, its work force was aging, and its employees weren't getting preventative care. The company began voluntary programs to encourage healthy behavior that didn't work. So AmeriGas gave its workers a simple choice last year: Get regular check-ups, or lose your health insurance, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The ultimatum seems to have worked; AmeriGas has seen more than 90% of workers get their exams, and the checkups have uncovered early-stage diabetes, cancer, and liver disease the employees admit would’ve otherwise gone undetected. And because AmeriGas doesn’t require that any action be taken based on the results, the firm is not in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. But whether the program works remains to be seen: The company's health costs were 3% higher than they would have been without it last year, due to the cost of additional exams and care.

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