By Michael Kline
Wouldn’t that be nice! Well, I’ve been working on a project that comes close for many of our local service employees. Most people don’t know about currently available programs with sliding fee scales that are remarkably affordable. Meanwhile, we’re working on yet another new program.
I’ve been working with Patricia McMurry, Executive Director of the White Mountain Community Health Center to see if they could invent an affordable product both employers and employees could embrace to fill some of the health care gap. To make sure the program is what is really needed, we’ve been interviewing employers around the valley to collect their stories, identify their concerns and determine if there is something we can contribute.
So far we’ve learned that while many have the valid excuse that health insurance is simply too expensive for either the employer or the employee to buy, we also learned that some wouldn’t buy insurance if it was half the price, or at any price at all for that matter. Not surprisingly, the feedback runs the gamut from totally compassionate employers who would make any personal sacrifice to protect the well-being of their staff, to others who would run sweat-shops with orphans to make a buck. I’m happy to report most are safely waffling around the middle somewhere, feeling frustrated, confused, uncertain and uncomfortable about the whole situation.
Some employers have offered to pay for limited health care programs only to be told by their employees that they would rather have the cash and take their chances. These employees often state their logic is that’s what emergency rooms are for. We also know that many young workers feel invincible; I can appreciate that, having been one of them. I spent twenty years without health insurance and I figure I saved about $40,000. I do not recommend this approach. I was lucky enough to only visit the emergency room twice in those twenty years and I appreciate it was a lot of luck.
We have an idea:
Given that some affordable insurance plans won’t even pay for an annual physical, even though most of us know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Further given that many employers and far more employees cannot afford to buy comprehensive insurance. And finally, given that we do not have the power to fix the entire system anytime soon and we have no idea what the politicians will do or not do…
We want to create a package that does three things:
1. Offer an amazingly low price, for at a minimum, an annual physical for every eligible employee (like any benefit, eligibility to be determined by employer).
2. Promote education through a number of means, about preventative wellness including awareness around nutrition and exercise, ergonomics at work, reducing stress builders, etc.
3. Promote a work culture of healthier living. This might include changing rooms at work, company sponsored weight-loss clubs, or gym memberships, or a lunch-time walking group. The point is, we cannot pretend to be building productivity if we are not promoting healthy, energetic, positive people.
Help create this small piece of a very large puzzle. Don’t wait until the program is being promoted to not like it; now is the time to share your input. If you think you would be interested in making an amazingly small investment per employee (perhaps shared with them), and would like to talk with us about your ideas and concerns, please email me or contact Patricia at the White Mountain Community Health Center (603) 447-8900x321.
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He may be reached through his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.