The trouble with most existing wellness incentive programs is that they are poorly designed and ineffi­cient, achieving too little reward for each dollar spent and often offending employees with a forceful Big Brother attitude that alienates the employer financing the program.

Many wellness incentive programs include higher health care premiums to directly penalize employees who make decisions that are costly and bad for their health – e.g., smoking or mainta­ining an unhealthy weight. Far from being positive and rewarding, for a typical worker already struggling to be healthier on her or his own accord, these programs behave like a credit card debt that never seems to go away. Such programs may even create anxiety that can stimulate the unhealthy behavior they’re designed to cure.

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