Companies Cut Back Wellness Plans


Company wellness plans are on the chopping block as employers look to cut costs, according to a report in USA Today.

Programs designed to help smokers quit and dieters lose weight, as well as other health-related initiatives (some with cash incentives) are increasingly becoming a casualty of recessionary times.

Pfizer (Stock Quote: PFE) is one company cutting cash bonuses for wellness program participation, according to the article.

Meanwhile, companies such as PepsiCo (Stock Quote: PEP) are not making cuts. Pepsi's Purchase, N.Y., headquarters offers a $20-a-month gym with pilates, yoga and spinning classes in addition to free laundry service for employee's workout clothes, according to USA Today. An on-site medical department provides flu shots and skin cancer screenings. In 2008 PepsiCo rolled out a $600 surcharge for smokers. They also offer a smoking-cessation program.

Long seen as a way to make workers more productive while also reducing sick days and health care expenses, wellness programs are important to the White House. In May, President Obama held a meeting with top company, union and health officials to learn about wellness initiatives. The Senate is considering a bill to provide tax credits to employers who offer wellness programs.

MainStreet has long advocated that healthier living can help you feel richer and more productive. Even if your employer cuts their wellness program, there are plenty of ways to make low-cost workouts a part of your life.

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