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Employee health

IBM Pays Employees Cash to Eat Healthy, Lose Weight

Sunday, August 10, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: employee health, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) IBM has adopted an incentive program that pays employees to take care of their health and lose weight.

The voluntary wellness incentive program, launched four years ago, pays employees up to $300 per year for participating in a program that includes eating healthy, tracking their eating habits, exercising and preventive health care. Only employees that participate and actually lose weight get paid.

IBM adopted the program as a way to cut down on health care costs, which are climbing every year in the United States due in large part to the worsening obesity epidemic. IBM alone spends $2 billion per year on health care around the world.

Due to the employee incentive program, IBM has now paid out $130 million to workers that have lost weight, stopped smoking and improved their health in other ways. But the company estimates that the program has actually saved it approximately three times as much, or nearly $400 million in more expensive, after-the-fact health care.

"Frankly speaking, we don't know why everybody wouldn't do this because it really does make a great deal of sense," said Paul Grundy, the company's director of Strategic Initiatives.

IBM's employee health insurance program also covers 100 percent of the costs of routine preventive care, as long as it is done "in-network."

Eric Finkelstein, the author of 'The Fattening of America', has said that programs such as IBM's make good financial sense.

"It is essentially costless for the firm," Finkelstein said. "If nobody loses any weight then they don't spend any money."

For 2008, IBM is extending the program to include rewards for parents of children who improve their eating habits.

IBM employee Stefanie Chiras praised the program, which she says has helped her get back into shape after a pregnancy.

"Having work sponsor it makes you kind of feel like someone is buying into it," said Chiras, "and then certainly the cash at the end of the day is an incentive."

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