Weve come a long way in corporate America concerning wellness. Corporations have figured out keeping employees happy and healthy doesnt just benefit the employees. It benefits the customers, the shareholders, and the leadership. Wellness is an idea whose time has come.
As an integral part of their benefits programs, many companies are now paying extra money to employees for participating in various wellness activities both online offline. These activities range from local fitness competitions to online medical evaluations to telephone health-coaching sessions to using online caregiver comparison tools. I say all that is pretty cool.
What isnt cool though is when employees decide it is smart to game the system by simulating wellness-activity participation so they earn the extra bucks fraudulently. According to a front-page article in The Kansas City Star this may be exactly what occurred recently (Wellness Fraud Alleged 12/14/12, A1, A10):
Federal prosecutors announced charges [December 13] against seven Kansas City and Jackson County public employees for purportedly running a lucrative scheme to cash in on an employee wellness program in which they never really participated. The employees allegedly defrauded their health insurance program of more than $300,000 by claiming cash incentives for participating in marathons, triathlons and other strenuous activities. (p. A1)
If the allegations are true, this is one wellness program that did not end well.
The good news is most wellness programs are handled with complete integrity and accountability by all participants. They remain a growing positive force in helping workers to improve all aspects of their health. Given the ongoing challenges in our healthcare system, anything that makes us healthier is definitely a net positive.
I think wellness programs are one of the best developments ever to hit the American workplace. I genuinely hope we have only just begun.
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