Employers are getting imaginative in a bid to persuade employees to lead healthy lifestyles.
CVS was in the news recently when they announced a new policy where employees were required to maintain their weight or pay fines. Other companies like Whole Foods offered discounts as incentives to workers who weighed less.
NutriSavings want employers to give workers coupons based on their grocery shopping - it will work on the same lines as a loyalty card which can track purchases and offer reward points. Nutrisavings will track the type of food people buy and score it against a nutritional quality scale - offering healthier options for a low scoring and discounts for high scores.
NutriSavings CEO Gerard Bridi says this is an optional program where the boss will not know what his employee is eating. The employers will only see an aggregate on how healthy the workers are eating.
Employees can get $30 cash back per month on buying fruits and vegetables, and despite this if the grocery choices rate low the company can tweak the benefits.
Bridi feels offering incentives are actually designed to re-educate people towards healthy eating habits. Most of the health care expenses treat chronic diseases - many of them due to wrong diet choices.
When workers return to NutriSystem site to access coupons, the site will present them with more resources to a healthy lifestyle which will include articles for healthier eating and links to healthier alternatives to what they have been buying.
This preventive strategy could curb health costs in the long run. The rise in diabetes is mainly due to obesity which is on the rise in the US.
Rather than regulating the food industry in a bid to control rising obesity - which is an impossible task - the advantage gained is when workers accept the perceived intrusion of their privacy, actually as a healthy drive.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Tara Culp-Ressler, April 2013