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Filed under health-insurance, insurance, patient-protection-and-affordable-care-act, and fitbit

Like most Americans, I have insurance through my employer. A terrible system that allows employers to decrease an employees pay for offenses like "wanting health insurance for children" or "needing glasses".

I should not be surprised that the new thing that employers like to penalize employees for is "not owning a Fitbit."

Let me backtrack: when my employer did their yearly negotiations with the insurance company, they made a choice. Instead of contributing more to health insurance, or asking all participating employees to pay more, they decided to add a penalty for the “least fit” employees. The penalty applies to employees who take the insurance, but do not meet a certain number of Health Points™ within 9 months. The main way to earn points? Grab a fitbit or other sanctioned pedometer and walk 10k steps a day.

On the surface, this seems like a simple way to encourage people to be healthier. Besides, studies have been reaffirming that financial incentives work for short-term health goals. Therefore, a financial penalty doubly encourages people? Well, the evidence is still out on that statement.

Personally, penalties motivate me, but also causes resentment. Even the threat of having money taken from me for not meeting an externally set goal makes me uneasy. So, when I look at my fitbit, I do not see an innovative toy for tracking my health. I see the mitigation of a financial penalty.

Opinion time: Fitbit has made a mistake by aligning themselves with health insurance dinosaurs. Through this partnership, our resentment of the threat of being penalized becomes a part of our experience with the fitbit device.

Full disclosure: I earned my fitbit without paying for it by gaining enough Health Points™.