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New Wellness Book Costs $5400 (but that includes shipping)

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

It seems like wellness economics are the opposite of regular economics. The more expensive the books, the less accurate they are. My books–Surviving Workplace Wellness, Cracking Health Costs, and Why Nobody Believes the Numbers — are completely accurate, in that readers have purchased more than 13,000 copies and reported no mistakes. (There actually is an inconsequential division mistake in a sidebar in Why Nobody Believes but I seem to be the only one to have noticed.)

In total, those books cost less than $100.

Or, you could “upgrade” to the IBISWorld report for $895 and read literary gems like:

Wellness firms may offer employers stress management courses and sessions that offer music therapy, aromatherapy, Tai Chi, and post disaster stress reduction through coaching.


Government-funded initiatives that promote wellness to cut costs related to chronic ailments (e.g., obesity and diabetes) has further exacerbated many businesses movement toward purchasing corporate wellness services.

And my favorite:

The industry provides wellness programs to businesses across the United States, including small, medium and large businesses in the private sector and businesses in the public sector.  

“Businesses in the public sector”? I realize many of our legislators are for sale but I didn’t know they had incorporated.

A full review of the IBISWorld tome, “New Report Raises the Bar for Cluelessness in Wellness,” can be found here.

And now may I introduce The Global Market for Population Health Management, 2016.  Before you mortgage your firstborn to fork over $5400 for this one, I would suggest reading the “highlight” that they were kind enough to put right on their website.


The “global economic burden of chronic disease” rising to $240-trillion would be quite a feat, given that total global economic output itself is only about $70-trillion. However, macroeconomics might be the opposite in wellness too.

The triple-digit IQ crowd will be most surprised to learn that:

At the same time, suppliers are deterred from entry or expansion due to success-based compensation models, global recession-based pricing pressures and the consequent perception of low margins.

Vendors are “deterred from entry”???  So the world is suffering from a shortage of wellness vendors? That might be news to the thousands of HR departments who get pestered by these vendors on a constant basis. Try googling on “empower” and “wellness.”  You’ll find seven companies with some variation of those words in their name.  A good rule of thumb is that an industry in which seven companies have the same name is not suffering from a vendor shortage.

Quite the opposite, the industry has so many vendors that it is literally running out of names. There is an “Interactive Health” and a “Healthy Interactions,” a “Wellness Corporate Solutions” and a “Corporate Wellness Solutions.”  In addition to running out of names, the industry is running out of non-names, so they end up with letter combinations more closely associated with Scrabble tiles, such as “Dacadoo.”

Mr. McGrigor attributes this shortage to two factors.

First, “success-based compensation models” are holding the industry back.  In other words, the reason wellness vendors are failing is that they can’t succeed.  As an aside, Quizzify has a success-based model.  We are often asked why we offer such a model when wellness vendors don’t, as though guaranteeing success is a bad thing.  So Mr. McGrigor has it the opposite of the way it is: buyers assume wellness vendors will fail, and look askance at those that guarantee success.

Second, vendors are “deterred from entry” because of the “perception of low margins.” For $5400, an author should be required to understand basic economics. It’s just the opposite of what Mr. McGrigor says. As I used to explain to the students when I taught economics at Harvard (you knew I would work that in), the price of milk isn’t low when the price of cows is low.  The price of cows is low when the price of milk is low.

So if wellness margins are low, it’s not because vendors don’t want to enter the market. It’s because the world is drowning in a sea of “empowered” wellness vendors.

One place margins are not low, though, is in books telling everyone how great the wellness industry is.  However, there is another rule of thumb in economics too: you could have the highest margins in the world but you still won’t make any money if you have no understanding of the subject matter you are writing about.

Unless he is banking that wellness economics are the opposite of everything else, which history suggests isn’t such a bad bet.


  1. HR person says:

    This is the first time I’ve been moved to comment and I can’t use my name because I work for a company. I’m commenting because I find wellness salespeople so infuriating and persistent. Anyone who knows this industry knows it’s exactly the opposite of what this moron says in his book. There are ZILLIONS of wellness vendors, and they all call me, it seems. I try to screen these idiots but sometimes they still get me on the phone. I tell them “go get validation” and never hear from them again.


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

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