Weighing employee health risks — literally — and what it means for you

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz
Will working in long-term care — or anywhere else, for that matter — soon become like flying Samoa Air? It's possible, maybe even likely.

At this little renegade airline, the one with the I'm-not-making-it-up slogan “A kilo is a kilo is a kilo,” passengers are charged by weight. Basically, body plus baggage equals ticket price, and like their website says, it's simple. We could be looking at the future of commercial air travel, one with Do Not Weigh lists and a new snack-coded warning system where the threat level is always doughnuts.

Since the airline industry is predicated on the successful lifting of a heavy object off the ground, the concept of weight-based fees makes sense and I shouldn't protest too vigorously, especially with my personal poundage now exceeding the combined weight of the Olsen twins. On the other hand, I'm already paying a steep, multi-decade price for the baggage I carry, so that part of the system seems needlessly cruel and excessive.  

When it comes to offering health insurance, many companies are essentially taking the same approach as Samoa Air. According to the Wall Street Journal, a growing number of employers are weighing employee health risks, literally, by charging overweight employees more for health insurance. They're also requiring that workers provide a level of personal data that would make even the Internal Revenue Service salivate, including weight, body-mass index, blood sugar and other measures of wellness and risk.  

Obviously, my greatest concern is the rate inequity and discord this could create between fat astronauts in weightless environments and their svelte but gravity-challenged colleagues back in the control center. But beyond that, as healthcare costs rise for long-term care employers, similar policies can't be far behind, and you need to be ready.

As you'll never know exactly when that hallway-wide bathroom scale will be camouflaged in the floor under the time clock, I suggest you proactively take some common sense precautions. Helium insoles and shoulder pads, for starters. Victorian-style corsets that will create the appearance of work-appropriate thinness. Sealed envelopes of post-dated blood test results, stellar of course, and personally verified by anyone but Lance Armstrong.

Finally, in preparation for your next long-term care job interview I would strongly encourage you to defuse the issue entirely by wearing this handy, clip-on disclaimer:

Product is sold by weight.

(Some settling may occur)

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.


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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.