12 Apr 2012

“Weight of the Union”

12 Apr 2012

Growing up my mother always said “prevention is better than cure.” This sentiment made me think twice before jumping over my neighbor’s barbed wire fence to pick fruit with my friends. These days, as we face steadily rising healthcare costs, insurers and employers are turning to prevention. The approach not only fosters mindfulness, it also saves everyone money.

The Chicago Tribune reports, “insurers and companies are recognizing that preventative health incentives can potentially save lives–and their bottom line.” These incentives seem to be working as evidenced by “Weight of the Union,” a recent survey from gym chain Anytime Fitness, whose members report that they’ve received nearly $4 million in health insurance reimbursements for working out 12 or more times per month in 2011. As the article reports, “That’s up $1 million from 2010.”

Fitness health consultant Heidi Holiday confirms, “We are seeing an increase by both health insurance providers offering this benefit to employees and employees taking advantage of these programs that pay them to exercise.” Such preventive efforts have cost benefits for all sides of the healthcare system. A recent CDC study has found that without the incentives, “some 86 percent of Americans could be overweight or obese by 2030. That means $1 out of every $6 in healthcare costs will be due to heavy Americans.” These healthcare costs don’t even take into consideration the loss in productivity that employers experience due to the increase in weight-related afflictions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

I think my mom only meant to protect me, I’m not sure if she even had a financial incentive to continuously repeat “prevention is better than cure,” but now that I am the only one responsible for my personal maintenance, financial or otherwise, her words play a much greater role in my life.

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