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Harvard Business Review on the economics of the Preserving Wellness Programs Act

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

Yesterday’s Harvard Business Review blog considered the economics of the now-infamous Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (HR 1313).  It had been previously analyzed from the perspectives of privacy and employee recourse. One would think that a measure which failed the latter two tests so miserably would at least show a favorable ROI.

Here is how the economics stack up.  Genetic testing costs about $500 per employee (and dependent — don’t forget that children can be tested too).  In the best-case scenario $1.44 can be saved, in about two years.  That yields an ROI of about 0.0288-to-1. In other words, out of every dollar spent, more than $0.97 is lost. Even by the standards of wellness, these numbers don’t add up.

However, genetic testing makes a ton of economic sense using the strategy made famous by Bravo Wellness, in which a program “provides options for immediate employer cost savings” by being so ridiculously unattractive that employees would rather pay the fine.

Please go to the HBR blog — which is read by exactly the people who would be implementing this program were the bill to pass — and tell them what you think. No need to leave a comment here — everyone who reads this blog has basically the same opinion, differing only in their amount of outrage.

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

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