Following the Obama administration issuing final rules on employee wellness programs in June, Ford Motor Company has declared it is making it a priority to communicate to their employees the importance of health and wellness in the workplace as well as home.
The company said the importance of wellness for Ford employees is even more important when, in spite of promises by President Obama that passage of his “crown jewel” of Obamacare, that costs would come down, national health care continue to rise.
In an announcement of the new program, Ford noted that according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 59 percent of all employees are not getting adequate exercise and 50 percent have high cholesterol. Additionally, 27 percent have cardiovascular disease, 26 percent are overweight by 20 pounds or more and 24 percent have high blood pressure.
The company said that it is important for their employees to remain healthy because their conditions go far beyond merely increasing health care costs, noting that it affects a person in their everyday life as well as contributes to a lack of productivity at work. According to Ford, nearly 70 to 90 percent of all health care costs could be prevented if people would just engage in healthy living.
Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, employers are permitted to increase the types of incentives they are able to provide to workers in an attempt to get them into a wellness program such as a gym or other efforts to encourage healthy behaviors.
However, while encouraging is one thing, companies were unclear on the extent to which they could penalize workers who chose to ignore government suggestions on living a healthy lifestyle and eating nutritious foods. In June the federal government issued rules detailing for employees exactly what they could and could not do to punish workers.
“This reinforces that employers have been on the right track in using financial incentives as one approach among many to influence health,” Andrew Webber, president and chief executive of the National Business Coalition on Health said in a statement to Forbes. “We’re supportive of the wellness rules and increasing the amount of incentives that employers can use in trying to influence employee behavior.”
Forbes has said that currently over 80 percent of the country’s largest employers are moving to a plan involving penalties and rewards to get their employees on the path to living a healthier lifestyle.
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