We are going to make a prediction. We might be wrong, though, because in the immortal words of the great philosopher Yogi Berra, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” We predict that the Boise School District, a Wellsteps customer, is going to win the 2015 Koop Award. At a minimum, they will get an honorable mention.
We base this prediction on three insights. First, as our previous posting shows, the award tends to go to the program that spews the most nonsense. Specifically, to the one that ignores both biostatistics and fifth-grade math most creatively. Obviously, Wellsteps misunderstands the statistical concept of regression to the mean. Misunderstanding biostatistics is a requirement for being a wellness vendor. What’s more surprising is that they were absent that day in third grade when the teacher explained the law of math that numbers can’t increase and decrease at the same time. Laws of math tend to be strictly enforced.
In all fairness, it is possible that both Wellsteps’ claims are true: total costs may very well have declined even as cost/person increased. The Boise School District might simply employ or insure fewer people in 2014 than in 2011. Or maybe the Wellsteps program was so unpopular and worthless that employees opted to get insurance through their spouses. But even the most dishonest wellness vendor with the most clueless customer wouldn’t claim credit for a reduction in costs due to fewer people being insured. And even the ethically challenged Koop Committee isn’t dishonest enough to endorse a claim that blatantly specious.
Second, the award almost always goes to a client or customer of a Koop Award Committee member, or to a client or customer of a sponsor of the Committee. Wellsteps’ Steve Aldana sits on the Committee. All the other vendors and sponsors on this Committee have already been graced with an award for one of their customers. So now it’s Wellsteps’ turn, as they have yet to win one for a customer of any size. (This partly reflects their lack of customers of any size.)
After all, why even bother being on this C.Everett Koop Award committee if you can’t give a C. Everett Koop Award to yourself? Isn’t that what Dr. C. Everett Koop was all about — self-dealing, cronyism and corruption? (not)
Third, the timing of the “White Paper” Wellsteps just published is quite fortuitous. Sort of like in World War I, when one side knew an infantry attack was coming because it was preceded by an artillery bombardment by the other side, Wellsteps is preparing us for more “over the top” claims of success in a program that — by their own admission — was a total failure at controlling costs through 2013, and only did OK in 2014 because the cost of non-participants declined precipitously.
Fourth, if the Committee was at all on the fence, our posting last month would have helped them decide in favor of Wellsteps. One thing this Committee enjoys doing is showing us that facts and math doesn’t matter because their customers don’t read our material. The more outrageous their claims, the more they like to rub our faces in the reality that very few people in human resources care what we have to say.
This isn’t because they have, to use Mr. Aldana’s hilariously misinformed term, I-don’t-care-itis. Instead it’s because most HR executives don’t hear what we have to say, as we are blocked from most linked-in groups run by members of the wellness ignorati.
We are actually quite proud of the enemies we’ve made…but even so would appreciate if you could re-post this.
Update: it is also possible that Wellsteps didn’t get their act together in time to apply for this award–applications were due in May and their White Paper just came out last month. In that case, we’ll look forward to revisiting this post next year.