Corporate wellness programs opposed by unions

Health care costs are rising at an increasingly unaffordable pace. Democrats have capitalized on our nation's fears about being able to meet our health care bill by trumpeting universal health care, despite the fact that the concept has failed around the world, that Medicaid and Medicare are fiscal train wrecks coming our way, and despite the fact that millions of the uninsured choose to go without medical care insurance even though they can afford the same (leaving it to taxpayers to foot the bill).

Companies are responding by seeking to head the problem off at the pass: requiring workers to take simple medical tests to find medical problems early so they can be tackled without the expense that might come if these conditions are not found, and treated, early in the progression. Companies are also engaging in drives to have their workers engage in healthy habits (sometimes financially rewarding them for losing weight, for example, helping to cut down on obesity and all the problems associated with obesity - diabetes, in particular).

These have become popular among employees and have helped make businesses more competitive by cutting health care costs. Workers become healthier, have fewer absences, live longer and become more productive. In many cases, these medical tests have discovered undiagnosed conditions and saved lives-and families.

As a result, businesses save money that can be directed towards higher wages, research and development, and job creation efforts. Sounds like a happy solution, right? Not according to unions who have gone into overdrive to oppose such programs.

This article in the Wall Street Journal details union opposition to corporate wellness programs:

As Congress ramps up the debate over health reform, efforts to prevent and manage chronic conditions like diabetes are a major focus. Such illnesses affect more than 130 million Americans and account for about three-quarters of total health spending. Already, well over half of big companies have launched initiatives to improve employee health.

Labor officials say they object to the idea of mandated health tests. "This is a personal health matter," says Gerry Shea, assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO. "To bring it into the workplace and tie it to benefits is inappropriate. It's like Big Brother." Fewer than 2% of AmeriGas workers are unionized.

Unions oppose programs such as these:

Among the first voluntary wellness efforts at AmeriGas was a poster campaign in 2001 that featured health tips and recipes. It offered a disease-management program from an outside vendor, which was available to counsel employees with certain chronic conditions. Other initiatives included promising discounted health-insurance premiums to nonsmokers and cash rewards for employees who filled out health-risk assessment forms. An exercise program was supposed to help workers get in shape.

Ellen Hendren, a customer-service representative in St. Augustine, Fla., discovered she had early-stage breast cancer when she went for a mammogram last August. If the test hadn't been required, the 63-year-old says she likely would have put it off and delayed the diagnosis by several months, allowing the cancer to grow. "It really has made a difference for me," she says.

AmeriGas projected that the screenings would cost about $500,000 in 2008. Mr. Katz declines to give the size of AmeriGas's health-care budget. But he says health costs in 2008 were at least 3% higher than they would have been without the program.


Katz attributes the increased spending to "the cost of additional exams and follow-up care."

Unions, who Barack Obama has given big IOU's (drawn on our savings accounts) are opposing even the most simple and beneficial steps to help workers and companies face mounting health and fiscal problems. Instead, they are socializing the problems by imposing the costs on us-via public health care.

Welcome to the Age of Obama.

Health care costs are rising at an increasingly unaffordable pace. Democrats have capitalized on our nation's fears about being able to meet our health care bill by trumpeting universal health care, despite the fact that the concept has failed around the world, that Medicaid and Medicare are fiscal train wrecks coming our way, and despite the fact that millions of the uninsured choose to go without medical care insurance even though they can afford the same (leaving it to taxpayers to foot the bill).

Companies are responding by seeking to head the problem off at the pass: requiring workers to take simple medical tests to find medical problems early so they can be tackled without the expense that might come if these conditions are not found, and treated, early in the progression. Companies are also engaging in drives to have their workers engage in healthy habits (sometimes financially rewarding them for losing weight, for example, helping to cut down on obesity and all the problems associated with obesity - diabetes, in particular).

These have become popular among employees and have helped make businesses more competitive by cutting health care costs. Workers become healthier, have fewer absences, live longer and become more productive. In many cases, these medical tests have discovered undiagnosed conditions and saved lives-and families.

As a result, businesses save money that can be directed towards higher wages, research and development, and job creation efforts. Sounds like a happy solution, right? Not according to unions who have gone into overdrive to oppose such programs.

This article in the Wall Street Journal details union opposition to corporate wellness programs:

As Congress ramps up the debate over health reform, efforts to prevent and manage chronic conditions like diabetes are a major focus. Such illnesses affect more than 130 million Americans and account for about three-quarters of total health spending. Already, well over half of big companies have launched initiatives to improve employee health.

Labor officials say they object to the idea of mandated health tests. "This is a personal health matter," says Gerry Shea, assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO. "To bring it into the workplace and tie it to benefits is inappropriate. It's like Big Brother." Fewer than 2% of AmeriGas workers are unionized.

Unions oppose programs such as these:

Among the first voluntary wellness efforts at AmeriGas was a poster campaign in 2001 that featured health tips and recipes. It offered a disease-management program from an outside vendor, which was available to counsel employees with certain chronic conditions. Other initiatives included promising discounted health-insurance premiums to nonsmokers and cash rewards for employees who filled out health-risk assessment forms. An exercise program was supposed to help workers get in shape.

Ellen Hendren, a customer-service representative in St. Augustine, Fla., discovered she had early-stage breast cancer when she went for a mammogram last August. If the test hadn't been required, the 63-year-old says she likely would have put it off and delayed the diagnosis by several months, allowing the cancer to grow. "It really has made a difference for me," she says.

AmeriGas projected that the screenings would cost about $500,000 in 2008. Mr. Katz declines to give the size of AmeriGas's health-care budget. But he says health costs in 2008 were at least 3% higher than they would have been without the program.


Katz attributes the increased spending to "the cost of additional exams and follow-up care."

Unions, who Barack Obama has given big IOU's (drawn on our savings accounts) are opposing even the most simple and beneficial steps to help workers and companies face mounting health and fiscal problems. Instead, they are socializing the problems by imposing the costs on us-via public health care.

Welcome to the Age of Obama.