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Home » wellness doesn't work » The wellness industry’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year just got worse.

The wellness industry’s terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year just got worse.

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The Wellness Industry’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Year  just got worse. Seems like CMS (Medicare) and Modern Healthcare are also ganging up on the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) and all their cronies.

The headline in today’s Modern Heathcare turns out to be a bit of an understatement:

Wellness programs aren’t generating Medicare savings

Read farther the article and you’ll come up with gems like:

Utiization and expenditures actually increased among program participants… The results mirror those in the corporate world.

Asked for comment, the National Business Group on Health’s very stable spokesgenius, Steve Wojcik, said:

So, while it didn’t reduce healthcare expense or utilization, it seems to have had a positive impact…by preventing or delaying normal deterioration that comes with age.

Where Mr. Wojcik came up with this spin, creative even by wellness industry standards, is anyone’s guess. Nothing in the program suggests it and when he finds something that does prevent age-related decline, I will be the first to nominate him for a Nobel Prize.

The curious thing is this failed approach is not “wellness or else” as Jon Robison calls it. Instead these programs are truly voluntary. Also unlike corporate wellness programs, vendors aren’t harassing healthy employees to eat more broccoli but rather focusing on unhealthy ones.  Instead of making healthy 30-year-olds get unneeded checkups, they’re encouraging 70-year-olds with chronic disease to get more medical care.

And yet the programs still don’t work. Color me surprised. I genuinely thought (and I honestly still think) that willing participants in voluntary programs who have chronic disease would benefit from these programs. Perhaps when they re-review another year’s data they will find a benefit.

Alternatively, instead of trying to maintain the revenue streams of their members, perhaps HERO could actually try to find a new model that does provide a benefit. Certainly there are plenty of vendors out there with possibly better mousetraps, but they all have one thing in common: they have no use for HERO’s pet vendors, any more than companies that make solar panels have a use for coal.

Speaking of HERO, let us review HERO’s comments from just last week:

Teddy Roosevelt said, “complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” It’s a quote that also reminds me why I’ve not thought of angry bloggers who target health promotion [vendors] as bullies. Though they relish trolling for bad apples, their scolding is toothless, more the stuff of chronic whiners.

Not to mention:

We’re fortunate to work in a profession with a scant number of vociferous critics. My take is that there is one thing these few angry loners want more desperately than attention: that’s to be taken seriously.

Just like wellness vendors like to define “voluntary” as “forced,” I guess in wellness-speak “scant number of vociferous critics and chronic whiners” mean “every commentator,”  and an “angry blogger” is any blogger with a great big smile on his face.


  1. williammcpeck says:

    Interesting results from CMS especially in light of Michael O’Donnell’s current effort to launch a universal application of health promotion movement.


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Good luck with that, Michael. He won’t be able to pull off his favorite scheme: “They pay what they weigh” in the Medicare population since Medicare is an entitlement.


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