You Might Lose Your Job If You Smoke or Eat Junk Food

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November 03, 2007 | 77,882 views

In an effort to reduce health care costs, employers are beginning to scrutinize the lifestyle habits of their employees -- even those that happen outside of business hours.

It’s commonplace for insurance companies to question clients about their smoking habits, weight, or other health issues. However, a new trend has employers screening employees and new job applicants for these same factors. The following factors could now put your job on the line:

1. Smoking
2. Blood pressure
3. Blood glucose levels
4. Body mass
5. Bad cholesterol levels

Currently only a small portion of U.S. employers have taken action against what they deem unhealthy behaviors, but the list is growing. For instance, in September 2007 The Cleveland Clinic began screening potential employees for nicotine. If any is found in their systems, they’re denied employment.

In 2009, another company, Clarian Health, plans to start charging employees $5 per paycheck if they are found using tobacco or to have abnormal levels of cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, employees at Weyco Incorporated can be charged $50 fees per paycheck not only if they smoke, but if their spouse smokes as well.

Privacy advocates are concerned that these monitoring trends will get out of hand, with employers charging fines for eating fast food or visiting a tavern. Most experts believe, however, that as health care costs continue to rise, employers will continue to enact penalties for unhealthy behaviors.


It is about time that people start having some economic incentives to stay healthy. The trend has been to provide good-tasting convenience foods that are relatively inexpensive but dramatically contribute to disease.

I firmly believe that people should have freedom of choice for their lifestyle behaviors, but it sure makes a lot of sense to provide economic incentives at work for healthy choices. The current system simply passes on the costs for these unhealthy choices to the entire culture. Everyone has to pick up the bill for these choices, and has been typically penalized by higher insurance premiums (and for those without insurance, far higher costs if they ever have to go to a hospital).

The article mentions that some workplaces start out encouraging their employees to be healthier by offering incentives to do so, then later switched to charging fines.

Fortunately, there are new health care models that provide amazingly effective alternatives to traditional group insurance. I recently switched my entire organization over to a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) with individual -- not group -- plans and we were able to radically improve the number of people covered, and lower the costs dramatically.

Paul Pilzer, a renowned economist, helped to spearhead this change and make it a legal option for employers. I interviewed him recently and hope to make that available in the near future.

Of course, it would be helpful to provide employees with the tools they need to make healthier choices. Providing healthy food in workplace cafeterias would be a start, along with offering before- or after-work exercise programs, or paying for an employee’s gym membership. But unless people have an incentive, they tend to resort to their manipulated brainwashing media messages and make consistently unhealthy choices.

How to Improve Your Health and Keep Your Job

What should you do if your employer has not yet opened its eyes to the benefits of providing healthy options? You should take matters into your own hands, and create the happy, healthy life you desire. This way, you can make the most of your time on the job, and your time at home with your loved ones. 

Start to use the over 100,000 pages of free information on this site so you can learn simple, practical and inexpensive tools and start taking control of your health. Some of the major points are: