Vitality



  • I started a new job at the beginning of the year. They have this program called "Vitality", whereby you can earn a discount on your health insurance. It involves participating in their exercise program, getting weighed, measured, blood samples taken, etc. I believe I lead a healthier-than-average lifestyle, and I found it a little creepy to participate in a program where my employer tells me how to run the rest of my life, so I chose not to participate. I would, however, be very glad to tell the corporate higher-ups, etc., how to run their life, but, oddly enough, I have had no takers on my kind offer.

    At the yearly benefits meeting this past week, an HR person from HQ came and gave a presentation. About halfway through the presentation, one of the slides had the cost of health insurance for the coming year. A couple of slides later, while discussing the Vitality program, she said that starting in 2016 there would be a health-insurance 10% surcharge if you either smoked or refused to submit a hair sample to prove that you didn't smoke. Since this sounded like a penalty, and she tried to slip it in, it didn't seem to belong in the Vitality program, which was voluntary, so I had to ask to make sure that I understand correctly, that there would be a fine for either smoking or refusing to submit a hair sample. Although she denied the word "fine", it was clear that it really was, and that it had nothing to do with the allegedly voluntary nature of the Vitality program. The office brown-nose piped in that it wasn't a fine, that it was really just that you were getting a benefit for not smoking. Always known for my tact, I explained that I provided a service to the company, a substantial portion of my life, and that the company was paying me in return. I wasn't interested in the company having its dirty fingers in the rest of my life. I forgot to ask whether dependents would also be required to submit hair samples.

    Does anyone else find this creepy?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @tharpa said:

    Does anyone else find this creepy?

    Yup, but it started a couple of years ago.

    Just wait until they start making coverage in the program officially mandatory--or forbid smoking, as I think happened in one medical clinic.



  • We have the smoking penalty, but no hair sample required; just answer a question on a form. I don't know what would happen if you lied and they found out.



  • What does your employment agreement say about health cover? If they're trying to reduce (or add a requirement to) your benefit beyond what you agreed to, you might have a case.

    On the other hand, my personal feeling is that it's not particularly unusual for the people who are responsible for your healthcare to want to get involved in your health.



  • @Buddy said:

    What does your employment agreement say about health cover? If they're trying to reduce (or add a requirement to) your benefit beyond what you agreed to, you might have a case.

    On the other hand, my personal feeling is that it's not particularly unusual for the people who are responsible for your healthcare to want to get involved in your health.

    They're not doing it in the middle of the year, so it's not violating any agreement. In any case, I'm sure they have their lawyers look at it, so it's not a matter of "having a case."

    Certainly they have a motive, that wasn't the question. I have no respect for corporate scum-balls and I don't want their diseased fingers in my life. So the question was whether it's creepy, not whether they have a motive (they obviously do), and that's it no longer voluntary, you're fined if you don't participate.

    The root of the problem is that the government has decided that employers must provide health insurance and that employees must buy it. This problem is down-hill from that one.

    But if most people don't thinks it's creepy, then there's no way around it. Independence (also known as freedom) will just get less and less as time goes on.

    In the early 1980's, my employer gave the employees plastic cups and told them to bring back stool samples. I did not, but at that time they did not have the ability to fine employees who did not comply. Now they do.

    It's funny, the HR woman made a big deal about HIPAA and confidentiality. But the list of employees who are "Platinum Level" participants in the Vitality program is posted in the lunchroom for all to see.



  • @tharpa said:

    I'm sure they have their lawyers look at it, so it's not a matter of "having a case."

    I'm not just talking legally here: If you and your employer agreed one thing when they hired you, and now they're changing the terms of that agreement, that's not fair. If, on the other hand, they're offering you a new agreement, and you aren't happy with those terms, the choices you have are to agree to the terms they are offering, disagree, or renegotiate.

    Or, as I would expect @boomzilla to point out, start a grassroots political movement, push through a bunch of poorly-conceived changes to the law, and end up exacerbating the exact problems you were complaining about in the first place.



  • @Buddy said:

    Or, as I would expect @boomzilla to point out, start a grassroots political movement, push through a bunch of poorly-conceived changes to the law, and end up exacerbating the exact problems you were complaining about in the first place.

    Isn't that the solution to everything in America anyway?




  • Fake News

    [quote=Buddy]On the other hand, my personal feeling is that it's not particularly unusual for the people who are responsible for your healthcare to want to get involved in your health.[/quote]No, I'm pretty sure that individuals are responsible for their own health care...



  • In this economy?



  • @lolwhat said:

    No, I'm pretty sure that individuals are responsible for their own health care...

    In at least one sense of the word "responsible", the company is responsible for the employees health care. I also discovered in the meeting that the employer directly reimburses the insurance company for all paid claims. The employer has insurance in case the payouts are much higher than expected.

    As creepy as it is, in one sense it's better than the old days of defined benefit pensions. There, the employer had a negative interest in your health. It was to their benefit that you die as soon after retirement as possible.



  • Next you're going to tell me that the Affordable Care Act actually raised premiums.



  • I'm not getting into the politics, but yes, this is super creepy. And it's just the beginning, by the sound of it.



  • I've been thinking about it and you're right: that's some real bullshit for them to require a sample from you to prove that you haven't been smoking. But I stand by that other stuff I rambled on about about agreements, and focusing on the choices you do have and whatnot.



  • @tharpa said:

    refused to submit a hair sample

    What if you can't (Bald/voluntary shave)?



  • I'm glad I live in a sane country where we have a decent health service that everyone contributes to.



  • You mention my employment agreement. I'm not sure what this employment agreement is of which you speak. I work in an "At Will" state, which means that either party can end the employment as it sees fit, with a handful of well-defined exceptions.

    They made this a fine so they can still say that their premiums are lower. Before I accepted the position, I asked the company what the current employee contribution was for health insurance, with the understanding that they could raise or lower it later. In this new scenario, they could tell a candidate that the rates were x, and then add various fines once they were hired to raise the premiums above x.

    Reminds me a little bit of a part-time job I had in the 80's working at Spruce Tree Bakery in Maryland. They had a way of getting around the minimum wage law. They paid the cooks minimum wage, but would charge them if they accidentally ruined a batch, which inevitably happened occasionally.



  • @PJH said:

    What if you can't (Bald/voluntary shave)?

    Pubes.



  • @lucas said:

    I'm glad I live in a sane country where we have a decent health service that everyone contributes to.

    I do find it amusing that that's your definition of a sane country. I see the root of the problem as too much government involvement. I have heard that there are waits for treatment in countries with socialized medicine. I would like to hear from people who have lived both in a country with socialized medicine as well as the U.S. as to which is better.



  • @Keith said:

    Pubes.

    Did the 'voluntary shave' bit elude you? ;)

    Edit: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Back%2C Sack and Crack



  • You've heard a lot of propaganda. I've heard a lot of claims by the American media about the NHS and some of them were so patently false I dunno how they managed to keep a straight face.

    The main problem is under-investment which seems to happen every time a conservative Government seem to come into power. If you want private healthcare, that is an option as well ... it not like you are forced to have one or another.



  • @PJH said:

    Did the 'voluntary shave' bit elude you?

    Just send them a bucket of shavings from your next session.


  • SockDev

    .... why did i click that link?

    why‽

    :facepalm:

    where did i put the brain bleach this time?



  • @lucas said:

    You've heard a lot of propaganda. I've heard a lot of claims by the American media about the NHS and some of them were so patently false I dunno how they managed to keep a straight face.

    The main problem is under-investment which seems to happen every time a conservative Government seem to come into power. If you want private healthcare, that is an option as well ... it not like you are forced to have one or another.

    You say if you want private healthcare, that is an option. But you've already paid extra taxes to pay for the socialized healthcare system. So only a rich person could afford to pay for private insurance on top of that, right? Or do you a get a substantial tax credit by getting private insurance?



  • @Keith said:

    Just send them a bucket of shavings from your next session.

    If you do it frequently enough the length of the hair makes any tests they could possibly want to do meaningless.

    @accalia said:

    why‽

    You're welcome. Had you seriously not come across the term? :D



  • @accalia said:

    .... why did i click that link?

    why‽

    :facepalm:

    where did i put the brain bleach this time?

    What's even more disturbing is that PJH knows something about it that even Urban Dictionary doesn't:
    That it's also known as a "voluntary shave".


  • SockDev

    @PJH said:

    You're welcome. Had you seriously not come across the term?

    i had heard of it once (playing Stanley Parable) but i hadn't bothered looking up what it meant because that would have meant pausing the game and i didn't care that much.

    i'm now wishing i had that innocence back.


  • SockDev

    @tharpa said:

    What's even more disturbing is that PJH knows something about it that even Urban Dictionary doesn't: That it's also known as a "voluntary shave".

    i've noticed that Urban Dictionary has some rather glaring holes where it comes to Britishisms versus 'Mericaisms



  • TBH I don't know, but I've never need anything more than the NHS.



  • This is such a WTF that a company feels entitled to control every aspect of its employee's lifes. What's next? Alcohol? Red meat? Hell, they should ban driving to the office since more people die that way than by smoking.
    And that this happens in a so called liberal country like the US is such an hypocrisy.



  • You don't pay extra taxes. I don't think in Europe we pay more than Americans. We just don't spend so much in other innane stuff as in defense and national security. Is this good or bad I don't know, but the chances of having cancer are far greater than being killed by AlQaeda.

    Answering your question, we don't get any reduction for having private health care. This only happens with private pensions plans.



  • @Eldelshell said:

    What's next? Alcohol? Red meat?

    Salt. And sugar.



  • @PJH said:

    If you do it frequently enough the length of the hair makes any tests they could possibly want to do meaningless.

    That's fine, you're still fulfilling their request.



  • sitting all day long.



  • Not eating enough fruit and veg. (The $NUMBER-a-day bollocks.)



  • Drink 8 glasses of water a day. Flush your teeth (we request you turn your used strings)

    P.S. Lost in translation.



  • @Eldelshell said:

    Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

    "How big a glass?" More bollocks.



  • @tharpa said:

    So only a rich person could afford to pay for private insurance on top of that, right?

    Private health insurance isn't always that expensive, depending on cover. It often still requires seeing an NHS doctor first - most 'private' care still uses some NHS services.

    @tharpa said:

    Or do you a get a substantial tax credit by getting private insurance?

    No. But then you still get access to the NHS, which for most 'private' healthcare you'll still need.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    This happens all the fucking time, particularly around BMI. "Lower your height-to-weight ratio and receive 30% off! All you naturally skinny people, you're already receiving the discount, of course." Fuck you.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @PJH said:

    What if you can't (Bald/voluntary shave)?

    You can probably provide an armpit or pubicback hair.



  • @FrostCat said:

    You can probably provide an armpit or pubic back hair.

    Uh, huh. Keep reading...


  • SockDev

    you can be evil when you want to be. :smiley:

    i like that.



  • Eh, you can lose the weight. It sucks, and can suck hard, but you can do it. It's just that you're unlikely to be a top performer at your job at the same time; you'll also develop a nasty habit of telling people how you've lost x pounds in the last y weeks and how awesome it is and how you can't imagine going back, etc. You may also require people take you more seriously because you worked so hard to lose the weight.

    Of course it helps if you can get more testosterone in your system (however you want to go about that), and you have to give up on almost all carbs like sugars and starches. <insert terrified crying face>

    (from the diaries of a formerly "naturally stocky" fella)



  • BMI is a shitty measure. Nothing important should be tied to it, that's the real WTF here.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    I'll just leave this here: http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/punishing-employees-for-their-size-bad-idea/

    or I would if Discourse would let me. WTF? The submit button is hidden. I'm on Windows 8 this morning, using Chrome in app mode instead of desktop mode. The button is not visible.

    Attempting to reply via email instead.... here goes.


    Edit - PJH, fixing escaped HTML. This another bug?



  • Not going to argue with you on that. BMI should never be by itself a measure. My grandmother has had a horrible BMI for at least the last 40 years* -- and she's over 90 now.

    But the idea that companies shouldn't have a vested interest in your health when they are paying for your bad decisions is itself a WTF (that you can blame on the Nazis and Japanese). When it's just you and a few buddies in the company is one thing. But when you have a workforce of tens of thousands and more?

    *I still associate any short woman with a wide girth with grandmotherliness.


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    This turns out to be a Chrome issue when using themes in App mode.

    So Chrome fucking broke it. Great.

    Escaped HTML, I don't know, l copied my post from the editor into my email and sent. That might be a bug.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    I'll just leave this here: http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/punishing-employees-for-their-size-bad-idea/

    So that was a well-reasoned and intelligent blog post. It also helped refine my own thinking about the whole thing. So thanks for that.



  • Penn and Teller did a Bullshit! episode on obesity, and convinced me that there's very little link between obesity and general health:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-I5RvcFIt4

    At least, none that are easily, trivially measurable in a statistical manner.

    BMI is awful because "unhealthy" BMI ranges can mean either a person is actually "overweight" or an athlete. There's no way to tell the difference without actually being able to actually look at the person whose measure you're reading.

    The only reason its used is because it's an easy measurement to take. Even though pretty much everybody knows it's wrong and stupid and useless.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    It's better than that; the lowest rates of death are actually experienced by people who are slightly into the overweight category. (Which isn't to say that that's where the lowest rates of health-related misery are; I've not seen statistics for that.) That said, being obese isn't good for you, and nor is being very underweight.

    Filed under: I could still do with losing a bit of weight myself…


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