The weight loss bonus: employees paid to lose weight

Michael Hannah had been enjoying years of earning hundreds of dollars in bonuses to help pay his health insurance. How? His boss ponied up the cash because he kept himself healthy, letting his company keep tabs on his weight and a few of his vitals like blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

It’s a secret benefit you may be missing out on at work. According to insurance benefit industry experts, nearly three quarters of all workplaces offer these types of “bonuses."

PIX11 caught up with Hannah at a local deli as he was eyeing the prepared foods. “What soup do you have today?” he asked the clerk behind the counter. He’s recently changed his eating habits after a visit to his doctor where he got “the talk.”

“He said, ‘Your weight has gone up. And you’re actually pre-diabetic right now. We’ll need to keep an eye on your heart, too.’ It was a real wake up call. I knew my clothes had been getting tighter, but the diabetes really woke me up. And then, I lost my bonus at work for staying healthy that had gone towards my health insurance premiums."

Hannah explained how he finally made the decision to get serious about losing weight. And with some help, he’s lost 20 pounds. But he knows the real trick is keeping it off. “There are peaks and valleys.”

Hannah didn’t win this food fight on his own—he had a weight loss coach, a support group, even a team of experts sharing the latest research. “I had reached that point where I was so ready to do something.”

And it was all at his fingertips—and completely free. His employer paid for the program… and gives him a bonus for sticking to a healthy weight.

“About 70% of employers offer these wellness programs to employees, but about 69% don’t know these wellness programs are available to them which is really shocking," Denise de la Rama of Noom Coaching said.

She explained why it’s smart business for employers to get your fitter. “Obesity leads to other chronic diseases such as diabetes such as hypertension, and that can cause premiums to rise."

That inspires employers to offer incentives, like weight loss programs and coachings. They reimburse for gym memberships, some even give you hundreds of dollars off your health insurance premiums for getting screened and staying at a healthy weight. Hannah was getting $300 in “bonus” to use towards his insurance payments.

De la Rama says, “Workers industry-wide can expect anywhere from $200 to $500 and it’s startling because the employer saves so much on costs as well.”
And Hannah says he loves having a healthier bottom line, both physically and fiscally.