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Eureka! An actual good idea for employee health and morale

Do you know whether heartburn pills are safe for long-term use?

I just read a provocative article by the IHPM’s Deborah Love, who points out the value of OTC drugs in self-care, citing multiple articles and sources.

I myself am a case study.  One day at work, out of the blue, I got this wicked case of indigestion.  I had to get in my car and drive all the way to CVS to buy a roll of Tums.  This would be considered a classic case of presenteeism followed by an hour of absenteeism.  The episode would definitely have reduced my productivity except for the fact that this particular job was a complete waste of a perfectly good cubicle, and the company was no doubt better off for my inattention to my half-soused boss’s half-witted directives.

If it is indeed the case that OTC drugs can alleviate, avoid or resolve some conditions that could cause absenteeism or presenteeism, perhaps they should be encouraged.  Many people have advocated that they be covered.  I have always thought that was unrealistic.  When you think about how much paper is consumed in health benefit administration today, coverage of OTC — requiring receipts and perhaps a doctor’s note — would be like adding more shrapnel to a hand grenade.

So perhaps the “answer” is that some OTC drugs should be made available — at cost — onsite.  Not all drugs.  Many OTC offerings are of dubious value or have long-term side effects, like taking a Prevacid every day, which can reduce bone density. But stocking those that are helpful in self-care could both encourage self-care and, — because they carry a lower price than the same drugs in a store — would be seen as a benefit by employees.  (If the price is low and employees are buying stuff for their friends, you can limit the number sold at one time.  Or sell them in a vending machine, where it is inconvenient to buy more than one at a time.  But if you are selling them at cost, it really doesn’t matter if your employees are buying more.)

Thoughts?  This seems pretty obvious and it always scares me when I think of things that should be obvious that I am missing something.

Otherwise, this should be a challenge to wellness vendors:  come up with an actual good idea, like this or like Quizzify.  If you do, we’ll be happy to tell people about it.


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

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