US companies paying employees to look after their health

February 20, 2005 Sunday

US companies paying employees to look after their health

Washington, Feb 20

Some US companies have begun to pay employees to exercise, eat right and look after their health, a media report said Sunday.

The move is driven by soaring health insurance costs. The companies say the fitter their workers are, the fewer claims they are likely to file, the Washington Post reported.

PacifiCare is among the more ambitious in its incentives. In addition to cash, the health management company offers its 9,100 employees rewards for participating in classes to stop smoking or to manage their diabetes or asthma.

Workers can also earn credit for non-health-related activities, such as trying to manage their personal finances better, learning about art or music, washing their car or teaching their children not to play so many video games. The credits can be converted into iPods, spa certificates, water noodle toys for the pool and other goodies, the report said.

A number of other companies are trying similar approaches on a smaller scale. Many efforts focus on smokers, and some are not voluntary, the newspaper said.