Incentives, Mandates, and Taxes: When Doing More Equates to Learning More.Am J Health Promot. 2019 02; 33(2):166-169.AJ
A recent District Court decision held that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), absent a tax penalty relating to the individual mandate, was unconstitutional. This follows on a Circuit Court decision that the ACA wellness provisions should be nullified. This editorial reviews the similarities and differences between the rulings and asks if a reasonable person would believe that offering financial incentives aimed at supporting a modicum of effort at self-care is rational. One survey of employers and health care consumers indicates 91 percent of those surveyed agree that wellness programs are a perk that helps employees improve health and, interestingly, the same percent agree these programs are sponsored by employers to cut costs. Where some may view the cost containment objectives of employee wellness as dubious, it's a minority view. Still, some minorities should and do carry inordinate sway in public health such as the small percent of those living with chronic conditions who are unwilling to participate in a healthy living program that is associated with their receiving full benefits. Are incentives a worthwhile strategy if they fail to motivate those who would benefit most from health improvement?