The rising cost of health care is beginning to put a great deal of strain on U.S. employers. Along with the soaring costs of health care, insurance is also rising, compounding the financial troubles faced by employers. Veridian Credit Union in Iowa is taking an aggressive stance of the health of its employees by introducing a new wellness program that is designed to keep the company’s health costs down. The program comes with coverage for voluntary screenings but also includes a steep penalty for those continuing unhealthy habits.
The credit union’s initiative aims to help employees quit smoking and curb obesity. The company is also offering voluntary screenings that can detect cancer and other illnesses. Those participating in the program will enjoy lower health insurance costs. However, those that refuse to quit smoking or lose weight will face much higher premiums. Veridian is not yet sure how much more these employees will pay, but insists that the increased cost will not be excessive.
Similar plans have been adopted from companies around the U.S. Retail giant Wal-Mart has implemented such an initiative. The company, which insures more than 1 million employees throughout the nation, says that the plan is aimed at helping people improve their lives, thereby reducing the amount they will have to pay in the future for medical care.
Insurance companies have been struggling to mitigate the effects of rising medical costs, but have yet to meet any real success. The solution for the problem may, for the time being, lie with employers.