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March 20, 2007

Healthy workers

Health-care costs have been rising faster than the overall rate of inflation for several years. N.C. State University's Mike Walden explains how this affects the relationship between business owners and workers.

"It's having a really big impact," says Dr. Walden, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist. "For the average business that provides health insurance, that health insurance per worker can cost between $3,000 and $7,000 every year. And of course, businesses are looking always for ways to reduce that.

"One way is to encourage healthy living," he adds. "Some businesses use a carrot approach there. They give added incentives, perhaps even pay for workers to go to nutrition classes or exercise classes.

"On the other hand, some businesses are using the stick approach: That is, they say we are going to fire you if you don't follow a healthy lifestyle.

"But there's another impact here, and it is in terms of where businesses locate," Walden says. "Locating a business where workers are healthy is becoming a much more important factor for the business community."

Posted by deeshore at March 20, 2007 08:41 AM