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Paul Carroll, CEO

Editor's Note by Paul Carroll

As any regular reader of this site has seen, we have been running a number of articles challenging the basic assumptions that underlie the huge and growing wellness industry. I want to be sure everyone understands that we are not taking sides here. I have been requesting — practically begging for — someone on the pro-wellness side of the debate to either rebut the critical articles or to simply post articles that outline the benefits of wellness programs. I have promised to provide those articles the same play that we have given the critical ones and to let them run as long as the author feels is necessary. To date, I have had zero takers.

I will continue to send any critical articles to the major wellness vendors and brokers and to the Business Roundtable, which a recent Reuters article says is such a strong proponent of wellness that its members were considering using a meeting with President Obama to threaten to withhold support for the Affordable Care Act unless he got the EEOC to halt lawsuits saying that certain wellness programs violate the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). If anyone ever responds, you will know almost immediately.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out some of the articles on our site about what, absent any defense, would seem to be a defenseless industry — or, at least, a defender-less industry. The most definitive challenge yet is this recent piece, Workplace Wellness Shows No Savings. It goes through the various types of studies on wellness and argues that all show a negative return on investment from wellness programs, despite lots of marketing claims to the contrary. The sternest article is CEOs Defy Common Sense on Wellness, which prompted my latest request for a response, from the Business Roundtable, on Dec. 1. The article argues that Business Roundtable members’ support for wellness can only be motivated by a desire to fire, or at least fine heavily, employees who might have been fired in the past but who are now protected by laws such as the ADA — a truly harsh charge that I, for one, hope is incorrect.

At ITL, our tagline is, “Welcome to the conversation,” but it’s hard to have a conversation on wellness if one side of the debate declines to talk. I hope that changes soon.

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Paul is the CEO and editor-in-chief of Insurance Thought Leadership. He is also co-author of The New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups and Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years and the author of Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM, a major best-seller published in 1993. Paul spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter. The paper nominated him twice for Pulitzer Prizes. In 1996, he founded Context, a thought-leadership magazine on the strategic importance of information technology that was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. He is a co-founder of the Devil's Advocate Group consulting firm.

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