Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Health care costs — Scotts means business

I went in for a routine annual physical exam in December and it ended up costing me hundreds of dollars out of pocket, not to mention costing my insurance carrier more than $6,000. Did I use the word “routine”?
I guess to my doctor routine means a stress test, two run-throughs of a shiny new imaging machine, and a 10-minute visit to a heart specialist. The total cost of these procedures, which took a total of about 90 minutes exceeded $7,000. After it all, nobody could say with any certainty how healthy my heart is.
"Let's wait and see," is what I heard.
Strangely (and perversely), I almost felt cheated that they didn’t find something wrong with me.
My point is: The U.S. health care system is big, big business where expensive tests on incredibly expensive and sophisticated equipment are now "routine," in my mind too "routine."
My advice is: Take care of yourself unless you (including your pocketbook) wants to get a serious workout at a huge hospital. (Is the hospital in your neighborhood starting to gobble up the entire surrrounding neighborhood as mine is? Is it starting to look more and more like Las Vegas casino?)
What set me off on this kick was an article about what the Scotts Miracle Gro Co. is doing about its employees’ health. The article appeared (of all places) in the Bangor (ME) Daily News.
Scotts is serious — yes, make that SERIOUS — about its employees’ health and, of course, the company’s health care costs.
Smoking by employees? Don’t do it.
Here’s a quote from the article will give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

“An outside company Scott hired to manage its employee health promotion program asks Scott employees to fill out lengthy health status questionnaires that help identify those at greatest risk for worsening health and higher health care costs. Health coaches then push higher risk employees to improve weight, exercise more, get cholesterol and blood sugar under control, and comply with their medication plans. Employees who refuse to fill out the questionnaires or work with the coaches on their personal health plans pay up to $1,200 more annually for their health insurance.”

Click on the headline to read the entire article. — Ron Hall

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