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In The News

Final front cover


September 2  The New Republic offers The Scourge of Workplace Wellness, an indictment of all things wellness, which naturally includes our own indictment of crash-dieting contests.


September 22 National Public Radio and Kaiser Health News observe that the new EEOC rules are a game-changer and can create liability.  Quizzify, of course, can indemnify you against any lawsuits.

August 6  New York Times joins the crowd: wellness doesn’t save money or even noticeably change behavior. Any perceived change is due to the difference in mindset between participants and non-participants. We of course had already proved that observationally.

March 2   Leading broker urges employers to drop outcomes-based wellness programs.

March 2  West Virginia teachers go on strike…over wellness. (OK, not only wellness, but it was a pretty big part of it.)

February 26  Here’s a shocker: wellness doesn’t save money in Medicare patients either.

January 20  WillisTowersWatson survey shows (p 15) that workplace wellness has by far the lowest Net Promoter Score of any industry. Even worse than cable TV services.

January 17   National Bureau of Economic Research concludes: wellness study designs are completely invalid.


December 27  Pulitzer Prize-winning LA Times columnist skewers four-figure “voluntary” wellness incentives and fines.  We appreciate the links to to us. Our work is clearly the go-to source for wellness outcomes research.

December 21  It’s rare when widely respected economists criticize wellness (not). The Incidental Economist supports AARP in AARP v. EEOC, ending forced voluntary wellness programs.

July 25  Entire issue of the leading law-medicine journal devoted to describing the many problems with the wellness industry.

June 19  Wellness bridges the partisan divide: both the left-wing and right-wing media hate it. Here’s Newsmax weighing in on the harms that Wellsteps’ program has caused in Boise.

April 20  Health News Review‘s wellness debate podcast is rather one-sided. The wellness industry trade association didn’t show up. And who can blame them? Transparency is their fifth-worst nightmare (after facts, data, integrity, and me).

March 15  LA Times and Chicago Tribune on the latest wellness “scam.”

March 15  Fortune highlights Cummins for not drinking the wellness Kool-Aid, and disses Nebraska’s Koop Award-program for its unbridled stupidity.

March 10  STATNews attracts a boatload of comments on its expose of HR 1313, a bill allowing employers to genetically test their employees. Many other articles followed, each more negative than the other.

January 24  American Journal of Managed Care publishes critique of the standard wellness industry participants-vs-non-participants study design. Turns out it’s completely invalid. And this surprises you because…?

January 5  WGN Radio in Chicago slams wellness. (Or, more accurately, eggs me on as I slam wellness.)


December 27   LifeZette comes out against corporate weight loss contests, due to hazards and cheating, and the hazards of cheating.

November 14   BenefitsPro publishes in-depth article questioning the use of incentives. They seem to have had trouble finding anyone to defend them on the record.

November 4   Add Laura Ingraham’s LifeZette to the list of right-wing media sites attacking wellness. Who says both wings can’t find common ground?

November 1  STATNews: RIP to “good” cholesterol. Wellness programs obsess with “good cholesterol,” and of course BMI and lowfat diets.  The former now joins the latter two in the Stupid Wellness Ideas Hall of Fame.

September 27  STATNews’ award-winning journalist Sharon Begley writes: “Wellness Award Goes to Workplace Where…Health Got Worse.”  We naturally offer the back story.

September 1  Slate: “Workplace Wellness Programs Are a Sham.” And this surprises you because…

July 20 Chicago Tribune gets Ron Goetzel to admit wellness risk factor reduction is trivial. We naturally helped readers connect the dots.

June 9  The Wall Street Journal exposes the shocking truth: wellness programs encourage employees to lie and cheat.  Instead of creating a culture of health, companies are creating a culture of deceit.

June 3 The Self-Insurer takes a long, hard (very hard) look at wellness

April 14 BenefitsPro details employer skepticism of wellness programs

April 1 Health Affairs publishes article showing how wellness increased costs for Connecticut state employees by increasing their use of low-value care.  A lay critique is here.

March 3  Laura Ingraham’s right-wing blog slams wellness.

February 29  The Guardian‘s left-wing blog slams wellness.  These people are running out of wings.

February 19   STAT News, the new (only) healthcare daily report, quotes Ron Goetzel as saying less than 10% of programs succeed. He also admits”pry, poke and prod” programs, like the ones he defends, don’t work.

February 16   The Economist writes a “Special Report” that doesn’t say or even hint that wellness saves money, even though this report was sponsored by a wellness company (Humana).  Apparently The Economist’s integrity is not for sale.

February 16  American Journal of Managed Care publishes my expose. This time it’s about the CDC. They should stick to Zika and leave the fifth-grade math to the experts.

February 3  Employee Benefit News does a brilliant smackdown of the (non)relationship between employee weight and corporate profitability.

February 1  Bloomberg publishes a puff piece on Aetna’s DNA wellness program without realizing that the editor of the journal that published Aetna’s underlying “research” has already apologized for allowing it to pass peer review, since it self-invalidates. (See the comments at the end.)

January 22  In an industry whose trademark is bad ideas, Johnson & Johnson’s proposed “fat tax” might be the worst. The other sponsor, Vitality, admitted they can’t even get their own employees to lose weight or eat healthier.

January 15  Bloomberg echoes our observation that “voluntary” wellness programs can now be mandatory.

January 8  NPR reports Health Affairs original research: Employer-paid incentives to lose weight don’t work.  We had already published a companion journal article (#1 for 2015 in American Journal of Managed Care) showing the same, in a meta-analysis…and added that weight loss doesn’t save money anyway.

January 8  Employee Benefit News immolates McKesson’s Koop Award-winning savings claims. Or more accurately, they allow McKesson’s own researcher to self-immolate.

January 8  Not sure where to put this. Not quite a blog, not quite news. Interview with Al Lewis, “Corporate Wellness Leader.” I’ve been called a lot of things but never that.

January 6  Better 5 years late than never: Society for Human Resources Management becomes first HR group to question screening values and frequencies in this excellent if long overdue article.


December 30  Chicago’s #1 radio station does drive-time smackdown of wellness.   Host was in a wellness program at her previous employer and, like most employees, hated it.

December 10  The Bloomberg BNA Healthcare Policy Report ably summarizes the overwhelming evidence that wellness is a waste of money and has no impact on health status.

December 4  The far left wing (Mother Earth News) has discovered what the far right wing (Newsmax) already knows:  wellness is a scam. Probably the only thing these two publications have ever agreed on.

November 30  Yet another practicing physician slams wellness for exactly the right reasons–a complete waste of money with no evidence supporting it.

November 25  Popular Milwaukee radio show takes on wellness

November 17   No, not a repeat.  The New York Times‘ economics blog, The Incidental Economist, slams wellness yet again.  This time it’s for discrimination. They already did economics. Harms should be next.

November 10  Study shows wellness vendors got it wrong for a change: It’s not BMI, which they obsess with. It’s belly fat.

November 4  Chicago Daily Herald slams Lake County for their taxpayer-financed wellness boondoggles.

November 3  Employee Benefit News provides first debate coverage. Quotes Goetzel as saying employees “like wellness.” Try telling that to an employee. Or as our book says: “Wellness programs will make employees happy whether they like it or not.”

October 30  New York Times slams wellness again.  Though not as amusing as their last smackdown, this article provides excellent reasons why employees should avoid these programs.

October 24  Thought-leading internal wellness directors (including this one at Paychex) are in open revolt against wellness vendors.

October 22  Insurance Thought Leadership on how wellness can exacerbate depression and anxiety in your workplace.

October 15  Harvard Business Review on wellness.  No rebuttals from Goetzel & his cronies.  They know better than to create a news cycle, and even they recognize incontrovertible math when they see it.

October 14  New England Journal of Medicine says: Checkups are more likely to harm you than benefit you.  And yet the wellness industry’s cocktail of overscreening,  worthless HRAs, forced checkups and weight-shaming somehow saves money, using Goetzel math.

October 11  Weight-shaming backfires.  We of course said this in February in a major article and one need only look at the cover art on our book Surviving Workplace Wellness to see how weigh-ins make employees feel.

October 8  Business Insurance nails it twice in a row (after being very late to the wellness-skeptic party).  They are reporting that physical health has very little to do with employee well-being.  And what the article doesn’t say is that when the two are related, it’s short-term acute physical issues, not “risk factors,” that impact well-being.

October 7  Having now hooked up their internet connection, Business Insurance uncovers the shocking truth: Employees don’t like wellness programs

October 6  The media scrutiny is intensifying, and articles are piling up faster than I can catalog them here.  BenefitsPro just hit wellness vendors hard again today. 

October 5  USA Today gets it right too.  Great article that you won’t see on any vendor websites anytime soon, especially Bravo Wellness‘s, since their CEO Jim Pshock demonstrated a “pshocking” lack of understanding about the way population health actually works.

September 30  BenefitsPro gets it right again...and even the National Business Group on Health, which is crawling with vendors and consultants, agrees with us: conventional wellness programs don’t work

September 23  Interview by Michael Rucker highlights the dishonesty of wellness vendors

September 16  Huffpost:  Wellness Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

September 16  If the wellness industry keeps getting press like this, they should fire their PR firm and hire me.  I only have two talents in life, both on display on this very website:  (1) wellness outcomes measurement and (2) self-promotion.

September 15  FierceHealthPayer also gets it right…and promotes me to “former Harvard professor” in the process.

September 15  Yet another journalist gets it right (and cites us in the process). Wellness is weight discrimination, period.

September 14  BenefitsPro elaborates.   It should also be noted that Highmark had the good sense to fire ShapeUp after ShapeUp claimed these outcomes, which are now removed from the Highmark website.

September 11  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Weighs In on Wellness, WELCOA refuses to comment

August 15  The headline says it all:  The Corporate Wellness Fad Is Making Us All Miserable. And as usual, read the comments.

August 14  Did the wellness industry just admit fraud?

July 10  WHYY (Philadelphia NPR) assesses mandatory wellness programs

May 14  Huffpost: Shock-and-awe from Aetna and Newtopia 

May 8  Managed Care Magazine questions Medicaid wellness, notes the “withering criticism” that wellness has received.

May 7  BenefitsPro asks if wellness programs really save money

April 30  Managed Care Magazine‘s take on Aetna.  Would you let your insurance company run questionable genetic screens on you?

April 16  Huffpost summarizes yesterday’s announcement on the EEOC and wellness.  Employees now have a choice:  weigh or pay.  The longer version is on the Health Affairs site.

April 8  Insurance Thought Leadership summarizes the HERO Report: The Wellness Wars are Over. Wellness Lost.

April 2  American Journal of Public Health reports on a shockingly well-designed study (in other words a study that in any other field wouldn’t be noteworthy because it actually adhered to Study Design 101 guidelines) that showed a noticeable impact on weight of cafeteria choices.  They also didn’t claim savings, which probably wouldn’t have materialized and in any case wouldn’t have approached the cost of the program.  Still, credit where credit is due.

March 27  Employee Benefit News urges less “welness or else” and more focus on cultural improvement, featuring great insights from Jon Robison

March 26  Reuters on NBGH-Fidelity Survey finding large jump in money for wellness. $693 PEPY in incentives/penalties seems a bit disproportionate to the $0.99 PMPM in savings that the HERO report is claiming from wellness, before program costs.  We’re just sayin’…

March 21  Huffpost video slams wellness.

March 18  RAND’s Soeren Mattke takes on wellness, in Health Affairs

March 14  Huffpost cites us in multiple places in their Obama wellness article

March 8  PIttsburgh Post-Gazette addresses corporate weight-loss programs

February 20  Healthcare Payer News covers our paper in the American Journal of Managed Care.

January 28  Newsmax points out I was excluded from the Business Roundtable’s sham Senate hearings on wellness.

January 23  Healthcare Payer News cites our critique of wellness in a lengthy article about what’s wrong with the industry.

January 23  Yet another physician says “It’s time to end corporate wellness programs.”

January 13  Reuters posits that wellness exists for the purposes of allowing employers to claw back penalties from employees, since the penalties are magnitudes more than potential savings

January 10   Health Affairs names our Workplace Wellness Produces No Savings to its top-posts-of-2014 list

January 10  Popular and well-respected blogger Paul Levy cites our Health Affairs posting and observes: “The wellness industry has imposed its own form of tax on the health care system.”  A must-read.

January 5   Another list of questions for Ron Goetzel to ignore, which is actually a brilliant strategy on his part because they are unanswerable. “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

January 4   RAND’s wellness guru Soeren Mattke asks Harvard’s Kate Baicker to finally take a position on wellness, five years after opening this can of worms and then running away from it.

January 2  We ask if Kate Baicker could take a position on wellness ROI, given that her 3.27-to-1 ROI is cited ceaselessly by the wellness ignorati but she refuses to defend it

January 2  A delightfully unexpected and very clever endorsement from Hope Health


December 18th — Vik in the Society for Human Resources Management

December 18thEmployee Benefit News writes what they call a “post-mortem” but really more of a pre-mortem for pry, poke, prod and punish wellness programs

December 18th — The editor of the American Journal of Health Promotion falls for Jon Robison’s bait and is forced to explain why the article in his journal he just edited for clarity is so unclear that it doesn’t mean what it says.  Jon quotes Soeren Mattke, who points out that every time one wellness claim is eviscerated, the wellness ignorati say that didn’t mean that, they meant something else.  And then it turns out the “something else” is made up too so then they switch to claim another set of benefits, and so on.  Sort of outcomes measurement-meets-Whack-a-Mole.

December 17th — Al’s quote highlighted in The Wall Street Journal

December 12th — Al is a hit on NPR’s All Things Considered.

December 9: The very conservative website, The Federalist, comes out in support of our position, proving that common sense can cross political lines.

December 2: Wellness vendors may not believe us, but a rapidly expanding portion of the rest of the world does. The  LA Times carried an essay by columnist Michael Hiltzik, who happily picks up and runs with the theme of our paper in Health Affairs: this stuff doesn’t work. Writes Mr. Hiltzik, “The most shocking, not to say surprising, showing in the article by healthcare consultants Al Lewis and Vik Khanna and healthcare management expert Shana Montrose is that most of the claims for cost savings from these programs come from the firms hawking the programs, often using bogus comparisons and surveys that haven’t been peer-reviewed.” We couldn’t have said it any better.

November 26: Modern Healthcare picks up the post.

November 25: Our latest paper, with Shana Montrose, published at the Health Affairs Blog: Workplace Wellness Produces No Savings. Even though it appeared late in the month, it ended up as the blog’s most frequently read post of the entire month.  Helps that it was picked up by the New York Times-affiliated Incidental Economist.

November 16Central Maine Healthcare  has combined the misanthropy of Penn State with the pay-to-play antics of the Koop Award Committee.  They’ve secretly hired their cronies to force their employees to get unneeded checkups provided mostly by their very own affiliated doctors.   On the bright side, there is some good news for Ron Goetzel:  following Honeywell, this is the second consecutive debacle in which he was not involved — though he is doing his best to keep Nebraska on the front page, even while attempting to erase his role in Penn State from the history books.

September 25:  In The New York Times, two writers from The Incidental Economist do something that must seem awfully confusing to wellness vendors. They tell the truth, and it’s the opposite of everything that wellness vendors try to tell employers.

September 24: In Entrepreneur, writer Lisa Evans tells it like it is about workplace wellness. Not only does it not work, but pushing conventional workplace wellness distracts from the much harder, but more meaningful, task of helping understand what employees need to thrive and creating cultures that empower them to reach their goals.

September 15  It’s hard enough to get wellness guru Ron Goetzel to speak the truth about wellness, but we’d be happy if he just answered questions. He won’t even do that. In an entertaining post from Salveo Partners, we, along with Jon Robison and Tom Emerick, ask Goetzel 13 questions about workplace wellness. We’re figuring Godot will appear before Ron answers, but the questions themselves are worth reading.

September 4  University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), apparently under pressure to come up with results following years of subjecting their employees to wellness programs, found that 2% of their employees improved their health.  Yes, two whole percentage points!  And that of course excludes dropouts and non-participants.  Pop open the champagne.

June 20 Wall Street Journal: Here Comes Obamacare’s Workplace Wellness






  1. […] not the only one who has noticed this. Many leading economists and publications (of the left and right) have observed that so-called […]


  2. […] not the only one who has noticed this. Many leading economists and publications (of the left and right) have observed that so-called […]


  3. […] not the only one who has noticed this. Many leading economists and publications (of the left and right) have observed that so-called […]


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