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Friday, March 11, 2005

Let's Reward Good Behavior

Montgomery County in Pennsylvania (just outside of Philly) is planning to ban the hiring of smokers for county jobs. The county commissioner, claims the county needs to do it to reduce the county expenditures on employee health insurance.

BUT the change will not affect current employees who smoke. In other words, the commish won't go so far as to risk losing any county worker votes and doesn't have the gonads to stand up to the worker unions. So he will penalize some nameless and faceless future job applicant who smoke. And those are just my small beefs against the proposal.

My principal objection is the proposal is a prototypical pol's gutless, less than innovative, half-step to just do something. And by doing so, he discriminates aainst one class of workers. The good news is I expect the ACLU to ride to their rescue any moment.

I say let's try something new for a change. Let's reward good behavior. When I am Emperor of the World, a fat, slovenly, out of shape employee would pay more for health insurance than one health-conscious, fit employee. An employer could simply provide a voucher (let's use) of $500 per month which each employee could use to buy his own heath insurance.

The fit employee could elect higher deductibles and co-pays and probably get a lower premium and pocket the difference. The out of shape employee would probably need lower deducibles and have higher premiums so he would have less money in his pocket than his fit co-worker.

Therefore, the healthy employee get rewarded for his good behavior and the employer pays the the fit and the unhealthy employee the exact same amount so the employer avoids charges of discrimination. And last time checked, it is a constitutional right to choose to be unhealthy (typed while I am munching on a bag of potato chips).

Doesn't my idea sound a lot better than Montgomery County's? In my world, the good behavior gets rewarded. And I don't discriminate!

In my world, the county commissioner could concentrate on his primary role: providing ONLY essential government services using the FEWEST number of employees at the most efective cost. And he does not waste time concocting half-baked ideas in policy areas in which he lacks expertise and is ill-informed. Hell, if he realy wanted to save $1 Million per year, he could just find a way to eliminate 20 or so jobs.

P.S. I seem to recall reading several studies that found smokers are, on average, better, harder and more productive employees. The researchers guessed it had something to do with the smoker's propensity for addictions and compulsions.

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