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The Business Roundtable Runs In Circles

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By Vik

Every now and then I come across wellness news that makes even me — jaded, cynical, sarcastic me — howl with delight. I don’t mean that the people supporting wellness do something worthy of praise. I mean they do or say things to support my oft-stated observation that wellness proponents are their own worst enemies.

Just do an inventory on this page from the Business Roundtable, and you will see what I mean. These are their wellness highlights. The mind reels at the prospect of what the lowlights might look like.

Caesar’s Entertainment, which actually has two entries (here and here). Unfortunately for Caesar’s employees, their program is as bankrupt as their company.  Their major accomplishment after several years of tilting at wellness isn’t a dramatic reduction in wellness-sensitive medical events, which either they don’t know enough to measure or else the results are so disappointing they decided not to announce them.

Here’s the most they can say:  “Early stage clinical results indicate that employee participants are healthier, controlling BMI, improving glucose values and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.” Unfortunately, in healthcare, early stage results often go up in smoke, sort of like the second-hand smoke that Caesar’s casino employees breathe while their managers, when they not at bankruptcy court hearings, try to financially coerce them to be healthier.

Memo to the Business Roundtable:  You might want to put someone jointly in charge of your wellness committee whose company doesn’t poison their employees.  I’m just sayin’…

CVS Caremark. CVS is the company whose shot at wellness was heard ‘round the world when they became the first high-profile company to get sued by one of their own employees. CVS also has two entries on this page; the second one is here. Their major claim to fame is that they increased wellness program participation from 60% to 90% of employees. Of course they did; they went from a $180 “incentive” in 2010 to a $600 penalty in higher health insurance premiums in 2013 if you don’t take your wellness medicine. Heck, even I joined my wife’s employer’s wellness program after they threatened to hit us with an even larger wellness avoidance penalty. Later this week, I’ll be writing up a new episode in my traipse over the wellness landscape.

Memo to Business Roundtable:  You might wanna put someone jointly in charge of your wellness committee whose company isn’t being sued by its own employees.  I’m just sayin’…

AT&T. AT&T’s claim to wellness fame is that they have a disease management program. Hello? Hello? Can you hear me now? Disease management isn’t wellness. It’s managed care.

Honeywell. Honeywell will be the first inductee into the Wellness Hall of Fame. It is one of three companies to be sued by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) for violating federal law by implementing a program promoted by federal law. (The other two are Orion Energy and Flambeau, Inc.). Honeywell’s wellness news is that they have programs to help people make better decisions about surgery (more managed care) and something called “Know Before You Go,” which sounds more like bathroom guidance for preschoolers than health education for adults. You just cannot make this stuff up.

Doing well through wellness. You have to read what’s at this link. It’s a report from 2006-07, meaning that it is the wellness equivalent of a first generation iPhone. In other words, nobody uses one any more. And if you did use one, people would look at you funny.SONY DSC

What does it say about a business leadership group whose pantheon of wellness highlights includes two entries from a failed enterprise, two from active defendants, and one from a company that can’t tell the difference between wellness and managed care, along with a report on wellness that predates not just the ACA law regulating wellness, but even the administration that proposed the law?

I am so glad that I don’t gamble, use Verizon Wireless, and fill my scrips at Walgreens.



  1. Marybeth says:

    This whole Business Roundtable thing seems like a crock to me. They don’t have data, just a couple of case studies. One of them is VERY fishy: you send someone to the ER because they have high blood pressure (that’s a mistake–the ERs would be spilling out onto the sidewalk) and suddenly they get emergency double-bypass surgery??? One has almost nothing to do with the other, and in any case if your blockage doesn’t require at least a triple bypass, it can be elective, not an emergency. Someone is either making this up or they screwed up. Either way it’s fishy.


    • Vik Khanna says:

      Thanks for your comment. You’re smarter that the big shots at the BRT, who are mostly still trying to catch up to the hamster at the top of this post.


    • Mike Q says:

      I suspect many of these they-saved-my-life stories are false positives dressed up or made up to justify wellness programs that can’t be justified any other way


      • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

        An excellent way to spike someone’s blood pressure even higher is to tell them their blood pressure is so high they need to go to the ER. But remember the mantra: “In wellness, you don’t have to challenge the data to invalidate it. You merely have to read the data. It will invalidate itself.” QED for the BRT


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      I just found this link. This alleged person’s BP was 260 systolic. Surgery would not have been performed. The story was fabricated, or bad and expensive decisions were made that could have killed him, or someone got the story completely wrong. But as written, it would not have happened in a quality medical setting.


In the immortal words of the great philosopher Pat Benatar, hit me with your best shot.

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