According to the Daily Beast, about 18 percent of US employers already charge penalties for employees who don’t improve their health and — as Obamacare comes into force — many more plan to do so. It reports a study that reinforces the irrational preferences most people have for nudges (or perceived rewards) over sticks. The article says, “The studies tested both carrot-and-stick policies, asking survey participants how they would react to policies that either punished overweight employees—with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher—with an extra $500 on health-care costs or rewarded healthy employees with a $500 deduction … Participants disliked stick policies regardless of whether they meant that overweight employees would end up paying the same or less than they would under the carrot policy,” the study found.” It’s a finding worth remembering for those of us who try to change health behaviour.

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