Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Health vs Common $ense

It's become common knowledge that installing workplace health-promotion plans will result in lower health and insurance costs:

"Employers pay people to meet sales goals, hit productivity targets, put in overtime. It works — people show up, do what they need to do and collect a paycheck ... By that logic, paying people cash incentives to lose weight, quit smoking, lower their blood pressure or engage in other healthy behaviors also should “work”

Unfortunately, that which is "logical" isn't always true. According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, there are certainly short-term payoffs to instituting these kinds of programs. The problem is that the positive results last for exactly as long as the positive reinforcement:

"[O]bese U.S. military veterans were paid to lose a pound per week for 24 weeks. Eight weeks after the incentive program ended, the vets had regained the weight they had lost."

Why this would be a surprise to anyone certainly eludes me: one who buys into a healthy (or healthier) lifestyle has, obviously, bought into the benefits thereof. But if it's just a monetary transaction, there is no "buy in" to be had.

This is of a piece with Bob's post last month about the disingenuous nature of the preventive care argument.
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