They Said What?

Home » AARP v. EEOC » Wellness vendors foresee “Wild West of Litigation” in 2019

Wellness vendors foresee “Wild West of Litigation” in 2019

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

Quizzify knows. Click to learn more.

Four of the most stable genius vendors in the wellness industry have penned a letter to Montana’s junior senator, in which their usual wellness savings propaganda — contrary to all evidence, of course — ends with a plea to confirm EEOC appointees who they hope will institute new rules by January designed to allow them to continue to harass employees in order to enhance their own revenue streams.

Being wellness vendors, naturally they got the facts wrong. Even if a new chairperson were appointed, the EEOC has already said it won’t issue rules by January. Besides, the idea of just adding a staff member and then immediately issuing rules is ludicrous. Anyone with any insight into how the rulemaking process works knows that’s not how the rulemaking process works.

Facts and insights are two of the many things wellness vendors have trouble comprehending, along with data, integrity, math, and — as we’ll see below — irony. (And, also, as we’ll see below, wellness.)

Their specific language:

Without clear guidance from the EEOC, we fear a Wild West of litigation could re-emerge as did it prior to the EEOC guidelines…jeopardizing programs that are improving the health of America’s workforce.

For months, we have been urging companies to take an obvious and painless step — requiring no government regulation or intervention or plaintive pleas to seemingly random junior senators from seemingly random states — to insulate themselves from this pending “Wild West” litigation.

Specifically, by offering alternative vendors such as Quizzify to indemnify themselves from this possibility, employees save money immediately and educate employees at the same time they avoid liability.

Having to offer Quizzify would be these vendors’ worst nightmare (since most employees would much rather learn something useful than be screened and told to eat more broccoli), and yet the letter’s four signatories are probably the four vendors most likely to be sued by employees if they don’t offer Quizzify as an alternative. Let’s look at each in turn.


Bravo Wellness

Bravo is the only vendor in the wellness industry to publicly brag about how much “immediate employer cost savings” can be obtained by fining employees who decline to have the stuffing screened out of them in violation of all US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines. Of course, Bravo’s program itself saves no money according to its own findings. There is also a question about their financial solvency, since they apparently can’t afford an internet connection.


Health Fitness Corporation

Health Fitness Corporation (HFC) bragged incessantly about its “life-saving, cost-saving catches” of 514 Nebraska state employees who had cancer. This was fairly easy to accomplish because it turned out, as HFC later admitted that they didn’t have cancer in the first place. (Ron Goetzel kindly forged a portion of a letter from Nebraska’s Governor to replace the old braggadocio with the new admission. I have to give him credit for loyalty here. He was willing to risk a felony charge in order to support his friends.)

Bragging about how many sick employees they hyperdiagnose is a pillar of the wellness industry.  In this case, HFC found all these false positives likely because they “waived” screening guidelines so that anyone of any age could get a colonoscopy, and sent out solicitations featuring a model way too young to be indicated for one.

“Waiving” screening guidelines is the wellness industry equivalent of “waiving” the minimum age requirement for a driver’s license. Fortunately for the very stable geniuses in the wellness industry, there is no regulation requiring wellness vendors to understand what they are doing, and they take full advantage of that loophole.

age related colon cancer screenings

HFC also saved 20% on a wellness program with Eastman Chemical. This was also quite easy to accomplish because it turned out they didn’t even actually have to implement the program. Simply splitting the group into participants and non-participants did the trick. As you can see from their Koop Award application below, the program already “saved” about 20% between 2004 and 2006 during the baseline period, before they started giving employees the aptly named “treatment.”

The Incidental Economist was very impressed with this study design. (Not!)  But I’ll tell you who really was impressed: Ron Goetzel. He gave HFC Koop Awards for both studies. For those who are not familiar with the it, the Koop Award recognizes the most stable geniuses in the wellness industry who are also sponsors of the Koop Award.


Wellness Corporate Solutions

Along with whining about how “shrill” I am (examples being…?), Wellness Corporate Solutions is worth “siting” (add English to the list of things wellness vendors don’t understand) for its crash-dieting contests, in which employees binge and then starve themselves to win prizes. Lately they’ve added a new twist: water-drinking contests. Obviously the first is bad for you. Overhydration turns out to be a bad idea. It doesn’t exactly enhance your productivity, if you catch my drift. Oh, yeah, and you also have to make sure you don’t die.


Viverae

Viverae may or may not harm employees. Obviously it fabricates its savings (claiming a $739/employee savings on a health score improvement of 2.4% creates an industry-leading Wishful Thinking Multiplier of 307), but catching a vendor lying is dog-bites-man in this industry. The more amusing thing is their “savings guarantee” which, this being the wellness industry, doesn’t guarantee savings for many reasons, not the least of which is there are none. You also have to “require” employees to submit to screens. No wonder they are worried about being sued.

Here is a guarantee of my own: I guarantee (and will put all consulting fees at risk) that I can prove that if Viverae says you saved anything, you didn’t.


Here’s another guarantee: while hiring these wellness vendors may very well get you sued, this one flyer (plus the Quizzify indemnification) will prevent that from happening.

 

 


6 Comments

  1. drjonrobison says:

    Outrageous! – Though not surprising considering the sources! As for the “wild west” analogy, – Leah Binder said it best – addressing just these types of vendors:

    “This rapid escalation in employee investment has spawned a “Wild West” kind of market for wellness and disease management with thousands of vendors overwhelming employers, often touting exaggerated claims of effectiveness.”

    Dr. Jon

    Like

  2. Sam Lippe says:

    You left out the part about how the vendors have been telling their customers not to worry about this stuff.

    Like

    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Yeah, and Bravo telling people I was spreading “rumors, innuendo and fiction,” all of which turns out to be exactly right.

      Like

  3. williammcpeck says:

    Since the concept of screenings is so ingrained in worksite wellness programs today, I would think that the risk of litigation would be quite high. Come January 1, there are bound to be employers who haven’t heard that the rules of the game have changed.

    Like

    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Yes, I can confirm with certainty that the word simply hasn’t gotten around. And, yes, there will be lawsuits. We are already hearing of one. I’ll be the expert witness.

      Like

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

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Recent Comments

drjonrobison on A Review of Netflix’ The…
whynobodybelievesthe… on Wellness vendors foresee…
williammcpeck on Wellness vendors foresee…
whynobodybelievesthe… on Wellness vendors foresee…
Sam Lippe on Wellness vendors foresee…
%d bloggers like this: