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Workplace Wellness Programs, Healthy Behaviors and Health Reform

Monday, December 07, 2009

Unhealthy behavior is costing America billions in health care expenditures, and making us less healthy as a people. Many large employers, recognizing the impact on the health of their workers and the companies’ bottom lines, offer financial incentives to their employees to exercise regularly, improve their diets, lose weight and quit smoking, among other things. Many employers cite substantial savings from these programs in their health coverage costs.

In the course of the health reform debate, the issue has arisen: which behaviors or health outcomes should be encouraged, and how large should the incentives be? The House and Senate reform bills differ on this subject. Changes supported by major employers and insurance companies are opposed by many disease advocacy groups and labor unions worried that workers and applicants with chronic conditions will be discriminated against.

What types of prevention models are working for business to keep workers healthier and restrain health costs? Are incentives that reward health outcomes more effective than those rewarding behavior change? Or do such incentives represent hidden charges for preexisting conditions?

To discuss these questions and others, the Alliance for Health Reform and AARP sponsored a December 7 briefing. Panelists were: Karen Pollitz of Georgetown University; Nancy LeaMond of AARP; Nancy Taylor, GreenbergTraurig; and Kathleen Buto of Johnson and Johnson. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.


 Ed Howard, Alliance for Health Reform, Moderator
 Karen Pollitz, Georgetown University, Speaker
 Nancy LeaMond, AARP, Speaker
 Nancy Taylor, GreenbergTraurig, Speaker
 Kathleen Buto, Johnson and Johnson, Speaker
(Click on the camera icon to see a video of the speaker's presentation.)

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Workplace Wellness Programs, Healthy Behaviors and Health Reform (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/7/2009
Event Summary: Event Summary (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/7/2009
Full Webcast/Podcast: Workplace Wellness Programs, Healthy Behaviors and Health Reform

The full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Speaker Presentations

Kathy Buto Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/7/2009
Nancy LeaMond Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/7/2009
Karen Pollitz Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/7/2009
Nancy Taylor Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/7/2009

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 12/3/2009
Source List (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 12/3/2009
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Alliance for Health Reform, 12/3/2009
FAQ on Senate HIPAA Provisions on Financial Incentives (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Preventive Health Partnership , 12/3/2009
Advocacy letter regarding Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (Adobe Acrobat PDF), AARP, 10/30/2009
Advocacy letter regarding wellness outcomes and insurance premiums (Adobe Acrobat PDF), AARP, 9/24/2009
State Laws Permitting Health Plan Wellness Programs (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 12/7/2009
Event Summary (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 12/7/2009
Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative Fact Sheet May 2014 (Adobe Acrobat PDF), Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, 5/1/2014

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

Impact of Worksite Wellness Intervention on Cardiac Risk Factors and One-Year Health Care Costs (Adobe Acrobat PDF),The American Journal of Cardiology, 7/2/2009
Global Survey Shows Businesses Turn to Wellness Programs to Improve Productivity, EHS Today, 11/19/2009
Wellness Programs and Lifestyle Discrimination -- The Legal Limits, New England Journal of Medicine, 7/10/2009
Insurance discounts for healthy habits spur debate in Washington, LA Times, 11/4/2009
New federal law helps protect genetic privacy of employees, The Arizona Republic, 11/21/2009
Ensign Wins Passage of Landmark Wellness Provision, Senator Ensign, 9/30/2009
Wellness Incentives Could Create Health-Care Loophole, Washington Post, 10/16/2009
How Safeway Is Cutting Health-Care Costs, Wall Street Journal, 6/12/2009
If Your Waistline Grows, Should Your Premiums, Too?, New York Times, 10/8/2009
Big Brother Is Watching Your Weight, Slate, 10/21/2009
Financial Penalties For The Unhealthy? Ethical Guidelines For Holding Employees Responsible For Their Health , Health Affairs, 5/5/2009
Wellness At What Price?, National Journal, 9/28/2009
Is Congress Serious About Fighting Chronic Diseases?, Roll Call, 11/23/2009
Wellness Programs & Health Risk Assessments (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Kaiser Family Foundation, 9/15/2009
Access to Healthy Foods in Low-Income Neighborhoods (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Yale University, 10/10/2009
Unequal Access to Wellness Programs (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Rutgers University, 5/10/2009
Get Healthy -- Or Else, Business Week, 2/27/2007
ADA: Health Risk Assessments, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 8/10/2009
Worksite Wellness Programs for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, American Heart Association, 9/30/2009
Asymmetric Paternalism to Improve Health Behaviors (Adobe Acrobat PDF),American Medical Association, 11/28/2007
Employers See Well-Designed Worksite Health and Wellness Programs as Strong Value, Health2 Resources , 7/28/2009


Kathleen Buto, vice president for health policy and government affairs at Johnson & Johnson, explains how J&J has improved employees' health and saved hundreds of millions of dollars through wellness programs. From the Dec. 7 briefing cosponsored by AARP. (10 min.)

Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of social impact at AARP, discusses the best way to link the price of health insurance premiums to healthy behaviors. From the Dec. 7 briefing cosponsored by AARP. (9 min.)

Nancy Taylor of the Greenberg Traurig law firm in Washington, DC, describes what current law permits when it comes to employee wellness programs. From the Dec. 7 briefing cosponsored by AARP. (9 min.)

Karen Pollitz of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute notes that employee wellness programs can discriminate against some employees unless incentives are carefully designed. From the Dec. 7 briefing cosponsored by AARP. (11 min.)


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