Tag: healthcare

So What! Yahoo Hires Pregnant CEO!

Goodness gracious.  The media flurry around the hiring of Marissa Mayer by Yahoo, the fact that she’s a she, and that she is also pregnant surely belies the lingering issue that remains inside C-Suite America – where are the women?  Fair enough.  Now there is a big brouhaha from many sides because Mayer told Fortune that she would work through her short maternity leave, which will only last a few weeks.  Bottom line.  It’s her choice.

What does not go unnoticed is the large number of expectant parents who DO NOT have a choice.  This is the vast population of workers who are not covered by FMLA; those who work at small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.  Choosing unemployment is a laughable option, as few of these working parents have the necessary economic reserves.  And, herein lies the conundrum.

Not surprisingly, there are health benefits for employees and their families associated with paid leave programs.

In “Policy Matters:  Public Policy, Paid Leave for New Parents, and Economic Security for U.S. Workers,” Linda Houser and Thomas P. Vartanian found that paid family leave reduces the likelihood of premature birth, improves breastfeeding establishment and duration and increases the chances of obtaining well baby care, in addition to improving the health of both mothers and children and decreasing health care costs in the longer term.  “Access to paid leave has also been linked to families’ economic security and independence,” the authors observed.

Valerie Young, a contributor to Woman in Washington, writes that “access to paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child reduces the likelihood that a family will be forced to resort to public support or food stamps.”  High-ranking officials like Mayer have the edge on middle and lower-income families, Young adds, because their employers often offer paid parental leave.  That’s why establishing a national paid leave policy is so important.

Note:  Mayer is lucky; she lives in California, one of two states (New Jersey being the other) in the United States that has a paid family leave program where employees may take up to six weeks of paid leave through a program financed entirely through small payroll tax contributions.

Big Numbas!

A few days ago, Karen posted a piece in the HRI Community (and the blog entry below) about child obesity and the impact it is having on employer’s healthcare costs and employee productivity. Last night, there were two articles about this obesity issue in my reading stack. One was a Fortune interview with Dr. Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic (http://bit.ly/aARfSr). Among other items, the article covered Cosgrove’s approach and attitude about managing a $5.5B company and the healthcare issues facing America. You’ve probably seen the numbers but Cosgrove commented that smoking, diet and lack of exercise cause 40% of premature deaths in the US, they contribute 70% of the chronic diseases that equates to 75% of the cost of healthcare. Big Numbas! The second article was from Business Week (http://bit.ly/cbxlhg) and covered a couple of the companies that are launching wellness programs to address the health of employees’ dependents. Good stuff. And, then again this AM, the Sunday Trib has an article titled “Fat Fatigue” (http://bit.ly/dCEh0W).

Personally, I am against policies that limit the freedom for people to choose how they lead their lives (obviously within the confines of the law). I miss the occasions when I could go to the Chop House, have a nice steak and smoke a cigar (All in moderation). But, when these individual choices have an impact on others, as the case is in ever increasing healthcare costs for businesses, something has to change. I love the incentive-based wellness program. They have always seemed like a no-brainer to me but many CEOs have worried about the impact they can have on their corporate culture. I can’t imagine that if done right that impact can only be positive. Think about the benefits to be had for the employees and when dollars going to healthcare coverage can be channeled to business development, R&D, and marketing. Will this be Easy Money? No. Are Wellness Programs a silver bullet? No. But they are great start.