Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Health Discounts

Whole Foods has an interesting new initiative to encourage healthy behavior amongst its employees:

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.

January 29, 2010