You know the drill as a HR Generalist on managing your Healthcare Plans - double digit growth in expenses, the push to share more of the total cost with employees, maybe even a push to embrace Wellness Programs as a progressive means to hold down the growth in overall costs.
Ever fired anyone for smoking? Scotts Miracle-Gro has. In an effort to push a progressive Wellness Program to the limit, Scotts recently termed its first employee for failing a nicotine test during his probationary period. It's all just a part of the Scotts mentality pushing a Wellness Program to the max to push employees to live healthier lives, and of course, to control the rising costs of providing medical coverage. To be fair, the program cuts both ways - the pressure on employees to live healthier lives has resulted in terminations, but has also saved lives like Joe Pellegrini:
In August, Joe Pellegrini got yet another nagging phone call. It was his health coach, a woman working on behalf of his employer, the $2.7 billion lawn-care company, Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. (SMG ) The 48-year-old executive knew the spiel by heart. "Have you been to your doctor yet? When are you going?" Then the prescription: "You need to lose weight and you really, really need to lower your cholesterol."
Pellegrini is a supply-chain executive at Scotts' headquarters in Marysville, Ohio, a land of all-you-can-eat buffets smack in the middle of America's obesity belt. At Scotts the hallways are filled with ldl-abusers and overweight diabetics. Pellegrini, by contrast, is an Armani-swaddled triathlete who often cycles 36 miles to and from work. Lose weight? "Give me a break," he thought. "It's all muscle, folks."
But a time bomb was ticking beneath the taut physique. Medical specialists working on behalf of Scotts had been scouring every aspect of Pellegrini's health. His profile--athletic, high body-mass index, and bad cholesterol (brought on by a love of 28-ounce sirloins)--triggered an alarm.
Eventually, Pellegrini succumbed to the company-applied pressure and agreed to abide by his health coach's action plan, which included an immediate visit to his doctor. A few weeks later, a specialist studying Pellegrini's angiogram spotted the heart valve of what should have been a dead man. Within hours, two stents were installed. The surgeons later told him the 95% blockage would have killed him within five days. "It was that close," Pellegrini says.
While it's good to see the live saving story, the Scotts example offers up a clear vision of the future - employers will begin to offer up the "Get Healthy - Or Else" proposition to candidates and employees alike over the next 5-10 years. The only question is how far this proposition will go regarding the slippery slope - smoking would seem to be a fair target regarding the recent changes in societal acceptance level of nicotine, but does the same hold true for obesity, which probably causes more health-related issues? Can you not hire someone or move someone out for not responding to weight reduction programs?
Companies like Scotts are leading the charge, and the results of the "fired for smoking" lawsuit (and others like it) will tell us much regarding how fast the landscape will change in this area... Read the BW article on Scotts, its a fascinating read...