Whole Foods’ New Health Incentive (Lower Discounts for Fat Folks) Causes Controversy
Whole Foods is now offering higher discounts to non-smoking employees who have low cholesterol, normal blood pressure, and healthy weights. Smokers, heavy-set employees, and/or those with high cholesterol and blood pressure will be fired, fined, beaten, and thrown in a store dumpster.
No. Actually, they’ll just continue to get the regular 20 percent discount. In fact, the plan is voluntary. Workers who sign up for it will receive free health screenings and be placed in one of four categories. Employees in the platinum category will receive a 30 percent discount, those in the gold category will earn a 27 percent discount, and workers in the silver and bronze categories will get 25 percent and 22 percent discounts, respectively.
Personally, I hope other companies will take similar measures to give people an incentive to adopt healthier habits. While some Whole Foods’ employees surely purchase the store’s low-fat vegan items or have other healthy habits, many simply need the work and don’t necessarily adhere to the company’s healthy “philosophies.”
With the current health-care crisis in America, we should encourage non-smokers who maintain a healthy weight and safe cholesterol and blood pressure levels. In fact, I previously wrote a post explaining why I believe that healthy vegans deserve discounted health insurance. People who eat plant-based foods, which are cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat, are known to have lower rates of many diseases.
Certainly, there are many medical conditions that aren’t diet-related and don’t involve lifestyle choices, but Whole Foods’ plan focuses on those that are. In short, it rewards employees who make healthy choices and gives those who do not another reason to do so—while not “punishing” them if they choose not to.
However, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is outraged at Whole Foods’ new program, as are some Whole Foods customers and employees. They feel the program rewards people who are naturally thin and discriminates against heavier people. But while the plan is intended to help employees slim down–and lower the company’s healthcare cost; weight is not the only factor that determines the discount rate.
Some people have also criticized Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey for opposing President Obama’s healthcare plan. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Mackey pointed out that many of the nation’s health care problems are “self-inflicted” and encouraged Americans to eat a vegan diet.
As far as I’m concerned, it simply stands to reason that Mackey should encourage his own employees to make healthier choices.