Healthy Living Incentive

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

Forget New Year's resolutions. It's no secret money talks, and in a new bill just passed the Michigan legislature, it's saying good habits pay.

"We think what we really need to do is move toward wellness," explains insurance company lobbyist Frank Venuto. "That's the way we're gonna keep costs under control."

Senate Bills 848, and 849--now passed by both houses in the state legislature--would allow his clients to offer incentives to help people get healthy. A rebates for weight loss is one example he offers, or a discount to quit smoking.

"]If we can do that, claim costs go down, insurance premiums go down," Venuto says.

It's a page taken from Okemos-based Weyco's book. You may remember the company stirred up controversy in 2005 by requiring employees to quit smoking. Shorter afterwards, they raised insurance rates for any employee who refused to take a health test twice a year."

"It's the way the industry is headed," Venuto says.

The catch with these incentives is that it may mean premiums for anyone with bad habits go up. There's only so much money in the insurance industry pot, and they admit rebates for some could mean rate hikes for the rest.

The state's insurance commissioner has not taken a position on the legislation. The governor hasn't decided if she will sign.

The AFL-CIO testified against in before it was voted on. They did not return calls for comment from News 10.


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