The pricey grocery chain will give 30% discounts to those who don’t smoke and have low blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI) rates, says CEO John Mackey … Employees will fall into four categories: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Those showing “platinum” health will earn 30% discounts; “gold” gets 27% and silver 25%, while “bronze” wins 22% off.
Now there are certainly problems with a program like this, and the article goes on to outline them with lots of quotes from people who are outraged. I, for one, don’t think this is such a bad idea. If it were purely based on weight it probably wouldn’t be such a good program, however, it also includes blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking habits. By combining all these I imagine you get a pretty good picture of overall health (as a side note, I’m the first person to say that BMI is a far from perfect measure of health). This is an attempt to combat the biggest problem with health insurance as it currently exists: There is no incentive to be healthy. While it’s not a perfect program, it’s nice to see some high-profile examples of companies putting the idea into action.
[Just to be clear, it’s my understanding the discount is off food at Whole Foods, not their health insurance.]
Update (1/29/09): For what it’s worth, some people got real upset with this post over at Tumblr (partly, I think, because it wasn’t clear that this discount was on stuff at Whole Foods). Anyway, I wrote up a pretty lengthy response if you’re so inclined.