President Obama had this to say in his just completed speech to the American Medical Association:
Building a health care system that promotes prevention rather than just managing diseases will require all of us to do our part. It will take doctors telling us what risk factors we should avoid and what preventive measures we should pursue. And it will take employers following the example of places like Safeway that is rewarding workers for taking better care of their health while reducing health care costs in the process. If you’re one of the three quarters of Safeway workers enrolled in their “Healthy Measures” program, you can get screened for problems like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. And if you score well, you can pay lower premiums. It’s a program that has helped Safeway cut health care spending by 13% and workers save over 20% on their premiums. And we are open to doing more to help employers adopt and expand programs like this one.
But as I reported last week, the CEO of Safeway said the company would have to end the program if the current Democratic proposal in the Senate were enacted. The problem is that the legislation includes a policy known as “community rating” which bars insurers from charging people different premiums based on their health status. Therefore, an insurer (or business) cannot give discounts to those who weigh less, don’t smoke, maintain lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and so on.