This Week's Herman Trend Alert

in Normal 2.0


  The Herman Trend Alert

January 24, 2007

Lifestyle and Health

Based on a study recently released by the Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) in Indiana, we believe more employers will put more pressure on their employees to live healthier lifestyles. This study, released last month found that lifestyles play a greater role in health insurance claims than was previously believed.

To determine the results, graduate students in the university's business-school studied insurance claims and the accompanying health data. The students looked at claims data as well as the blood-test results to determine the cost of lifestyle choices. Of course, all data were anonymous.

Biomarkers chosen for the study included blood pressure, body mass, tobacco use, and cholesterol levels. The study found that there is a direct correlation between these biomarkers, the indicators of a person's general health and well-being, and their heath care claims. Not so surprising.

But here's the news that shocked us: an amazing 87.5 percent of the claims' costs were attributable to the individual's lifestyle. The more closely those bio-markers fell into acceptable guidelines, the lower the individual's healthcare claims.

The results will have national implications, especially as the developed nations of the world continue to battle rising health-care costs and companies ask employees to shoulder more of the burden.

Lately, we have witnessed an increasing number of employers becoming "smoke-free". Some of the employees of these organizations shared with us their fears that "maintaining a healthy weight" might be next. . . that they are concerned about the trend towards employers dictating all of an employee's lifestyle choices.

As we have watched and wondered about the many unhealthy lifestyle choices people make, we can't help but expect that employers facing huge increases in healthcare costs will begin to be more forceful with their employees. This trend will cause more overall churning in the labor marketplace, as employees rebel against this Big Brother movement on the part of employers.

In the past, we have written about employers with onsite health clinics and how they have used these facilities to reduce healthcare costs. We look for employers to embrace these innovations in their quest for greater profitability.

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