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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Are big insurance discounts for healthy behavior unfair?

By Mary Agnes Carey




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Employers and health insurers could give larger discounts to employees who lose weight or lower their cholesterol under one health care overhaul proposal that's moving through Congress.

However, the AARP, the American Heart Association and other groups think it's unfair and fear it could result in higher premiums for people who don't achieve those fitness goals.

The discounts are being pushed by Safeway chief executive Steve Burd, who said that rewarding healthy behavior has helped keep the Pleasanton, Calif., supermarket chain's health care costs flat while other companies' have skyrocketed. He's met with several lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The proposal, which involves the sensitive issue of how aggressive employers can be in trying to induce workers to change their behavior to reduce their risks of disease, draws skepticism from many patient advocates.

"If you give one person a discount, someone else is going to end up paying more," said Paul Cotton of AARP, one of more than 60 groups that's fighting the provision. "So the people who aren't able to change their behavior or participate in the program will end up paying more. Our fear is that premiums will become unaffordable for people who can't change their behavior."

Under current law, employers and insurers are permitted to give discounts of up to 20 percent on premiums, co-payments or deductibles to workers who take part in wellness programs, which include anti-smoking and weight-loss programs. Some wellness programs simply require participation in order to get the discount, but others require employees to reduce their weight, blood pressure or cholesterol by specific levels.

Health care overhaul legislation passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would allow employers to increase those discounts to 30 percent, and up to 50 percent if the secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services and Treasury agree. A proposal in the House of Representatives would allow employers to charge workers who participate in wellness programs 50 percent less than workers who don't.

Proponents say the measure would improve health and lower costs, and that workers who can't hit specific targets could seek a medical exemption.

"There is significant savings and significant positives to encouraging people to live healthy lifestyles and reward people monetarily for doing it," said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., a co-sponsor of the amendment to the health committee bill. "That's just common sense and we should do it. If you create a healthier work force by incentivizing healthy lifestyles you reduce the overall cost of health care for everyone."

The groups fighting the provision say that while many employees might want to exercise and eat right, some might find that work schedules and family commitments prevent them from making the lifestyle changes needed to improve their health. Lower-income workers, in particular, might not be able to afford gym memberships, even with employers' subsidies.

"We are very concerned that individuals not be penalized — either financially or by exclusion from coverage or services — if they are sick or if they presently engage in specific behaviors or have certain health conditions, such as smoking or obesity," the groups wrote to Congress. The groups signing the letter include the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Some health advocates are more comfortable with linking financial incentives to other factors, such as refilling prescriptions or monitoring blood sugar on a regular basis, as opposed to meeting a specific fitness target.

"Once you get into paying more for specific outcomes, for many people that does cross over the line," said Ken Thorpe, executive director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, a coalition whose members include groups representing patients, health care providers and business and labor.

Employer groups are urging lawmakers to increase the discounts in premiums, co-pays and deductibles they can give to workers who participate in wellness programs.

"The value of health insurance premium discounts or rebates to promote employee participation in wellness programs has had and will continue to have a cost savings effect on multiple levels for our health care system," the groups, which include the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "They clearly motivate healthy behaviors as well as reduce health care costs."

A Senate GOP aide said the amendment includes language to prohibit any discrimination against individuals who can't attain specific fitness goals because of medical reasons or other factors. People who feel they can't meet the standards can request waivers or alternative standards from their employers. Employers can also ask for physician to certify that employees have existing medical conditions that would prevent them from meeting specific health goals. The programs must be "reasonable" and not "overly burdensome," open to all employees, and participation must be voluntary.

Safeway's Burd, whose company has given financial incentives to non-union employees to lose weight, cut tobacco use and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, has said that obesity and smoking rates among employees in the voluntary program are roughly 70 percent of the national average. In the past four years, Burd has said, his company's health care costs have been flat "while most American companies' costs have increased 38 percent over the same four years."

By Safeway's calculations, "if the nation had adopted our approach in 2005, the nation's direct health-care bill would be $550 billion less than it is today," Burd wrote in a June 12 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Critics say Burd's data haven't been independently verified. A Safeway spokeswoman acknowledged that there hasn't been an independent analysis, but "we were able to see savings clearly and immediately the first year we implemented the program."

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© 2009, Kaiser Health News McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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