It is interesting that in America Health and Wellness is such a huge topic. It is a huge topic because by and large HealthCare is met by private health care insurance. These health insurance company’s payouts escalate if there is no duty of care by the employer to step up in terms of Wellbeing. It is, I am sure, a potential risk if employees then start to point the finger of responsibility at their work environment for making them sick. Is the health responsibility a corporate or individual problem?
There are schemes in the U.S. where the employee has to meet certain health targets to get lower premiums – most employees are in favour of getting a financial reward if they meet the claims (80%) but they are not in favour if they had to pay a penalty for not meeting the targets (just 29% in favour)
In Britain of course, our healthcare is met by the National Health (We are extremely privileged I believe). Huge controversy is ignited if it is suggested, say, a smoker is refused care or asked to pay for care if they get sick because of their habit. Should the duty of care be passed to the patient or is it the responsibility of the Government, employer or some other body to make sure that our populous is sufficiently well informed to make critical lifestyle decisions ?
My belief is that the information and communication health and especially on diet is so poor that it is impossible just to blame the individual entirely. We receive nearly all out messages about food and diet through the media and especially though advertising. Of course there are government campaigns – eg The Five a Day – but these messages can so easily be high-jacked by interested parties. The Government interfering in our choices is seen as a mixture of nanny-state and Big Brother and certainly an infringement of the rights of the individual to be deemed “adult” enough to make the choice themselves – in fact, if the government has suggested it, its tempting for many to do the exact opposite.
The information we receive needs to be communicated better. Perhaps it is time for the employer to take on the mantle and responsibility of empowering their work force – certainly to the better health of their employee, but also for the health of the company involved. A well nourished, healthy and engaged workforce has got to be a positive thing for business surely but more importantly better for the individual? The message of the benefits of wellness needs to be communicated and there needs to be a more integrated approach. Responsible Food companies, interesting government information, engaged companies and individual responsibility.
Integrated also in the sense that health is not just a matter of making good choices (both in diet and exercise) it is about allowing enough time to make good choices. The convenience of the supermarket and a ready meal saves us time but we lose some of the nutritional benefit of not allowing the time to make a meal and share it with family, financial freedom but not at the cost of hugely long working hours that rob us of the right to health.