Recommended reading: Billing the right person for health care costs

Looking for a sponsor for, say, your mountain bike team? Go to your boss and tell her it will lower the company's health care costs.

Jeff P. passes along an emerging trend piece from The New York Times: “Getting Healthy, With a Little Help From The Boss.”

As the headline may suggest, employers are getting more aggressive about encouraging workers to live healthier. Lots of reasons this makes sense — healthier employees miss less work, for one. But the main reason is to control rising health insurance costs. Quoting the article: “According to a January survey by the benefits consulting firm Hewitt Associates, nearly two-thirds of large employers planned to transfer more costs to employees. At the same time, one-third planned to put greater emphasis on wellness plans — programs that encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles.”

There’s some concern that some employers are using questionnaires about employees’ health habits to gain information that could be used against them on the job. (The questionnaires go directly to a third party, which can initiate an intervention on the unknowing employer’s behalf.) Mostly, the article addresses the growing number of wellness programs being launched by employers.

A good solution, the latter. Ultimately, though, the only thing that will force people to amend their unhealthy ways is direct accountability. In the case of lifestyle and health issues, that would involve people having to pay for illnesses and diseases directly attributable to their behavior. In some instances, because of genetics, that could be a challenge. But if you’re 75 pounds overweight and develop type 2 diabetes, there’s a pretty fair chance that that your lifestyle choices are to blame. And if that is the case, shouldn’t you be the one to pay for your behavior?

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