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IBM To Pay For Obesity Prevention Efforts

Armen Hareyan's picture

IBM plans to launch a program that will offer employees monetary incentive to have their children participate in obesity education, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The program, scheduled to begin next year, will pay $150 to workers who sign up a child who completes a 12-week online program of diet and exercise training. The program is open to all children, and IBM says it does not look at the health information submitted by employees.

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According to J. Randall MacDonald, IBM senior vice president of human resources,the company is giving employees "cash to get their attention" because the incentives theoretically will save the company money in the future. MacDonald said the effort to prevent health problems in employees' children, who often are insured by the company's health care plan, is a logical approach because if "someone in a family has health problems, employees aren't always engaged at work because that's on your mind."

IBM instituted wellness programs five years ago that pay workers to improve their health. The company said the programs have had "significant success," according to the Journal, with 62% of employees currently participating in an annual fitness program that includes keeping an online diary of workouts. IBM estimates that the programs have saved the company between $100 million and $130 million annually in avoided health care costs (Bulkeley, Wall Street Journal, 10/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.