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Shape Up or Pay Up!

Posted on 09/20/2011

The city of Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a message for city employees...shape up or pay up! Well, sort of, but not exactly. He has given them a choice -- sign up for a new wellness program or pay a higher premium for health insurance...$50 more a month.

I think he is sending a pretty strong message to thousands of city employees by implementing a new policy that mandates employees of the windy city to help lower their skyrocketing health insurance premiums. Good idea, if you ask me. It makes good business sense. And, in this economy, we're all looking at ways to help the bottom line.

Sure, there's one side of this that says it smacks of too much oversight and big government. However, as an employer I think this is an absolute in this day and age.

Health insurance premiums continue to escalate with the increase in obesity and its related diseases, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and etc. The city's costs increase 10 percent each year alone! So, why not try to prevent those costly diseases before they begin? And, if someone is suffering from such costly diseases, why not help control them and perhaps change their course through wellness?

I think he's offering them an opportunity at better health and improved quality of life. Perhaps if the employees were part of the solution they wouldn't be part of the problem?

It's usually those who are of most need who cry foul of such programs aimed to help the greater good. Perhaps they feel targeted or guilty for their poor choices and out of defense they say how this is prejudicial or unfair in some way. I think it is part human nature to react as such. After careful thought and some time, I believe they can see the good in it if they do some introspection.

A few years ago we had interest from the City of Chicago to participate in our Wellness Incentive Program. This free program provides any company (or, organization) regardless of size an opportunity to encourage healthy behavior of its employees. We reward behavior by providing a refund of $100 after a client has ordered for 25 consecutive weeks. Additionally, we also reward clients with $100 check from Seattle Sutton herself for each 100-pound weight loss. Since this program began in 2006, we have clients who have received multiple checks for both. To date we have well over 300 companies involved or inquire about it.

We'd love to help the city of Chicago with their wellness program to help improve the health of their employees. I truly believe Mayor Emanuel is onto something good and will truly make a positive impact on his employees if he continues in this direction. I foresee more employers heading in this direction to help reduce costs and improve employee productivity.

I say, way to go Mayor Emanuel! Have your HR department contact us if we can help you with this program. After all, we are a local company with a long history of helping improve people's eating habits through freshly prepared meals. You -- and your employees -- have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

post-author

Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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