The Quaker Oats Co. has cooked up a new plan to control its runaway health benefits costs. They're giving employes a bonus for staying well.
In January, the Chicago-based firm allotted a $300 health-care allowance to each of 6,000 employes. Those who incur more than $300 in illness and injury expenses during 1983 switch over to a Comprehensive Medical Benefits plan, under which Quaker generally pays 85 percent of covered expenses.
Employes who spend less than $300 keep the change--or the whole amount if they spend nothing. If the company's total health-care costs are less than a targeted amount, Quaker will add a dividend to the employes' expense allowance the following year.
The plan comes in response to "an alarming" 85 percent jump in health-care costs over the last two years, says Quaker benefits director Robert Penzkover. "By now, everyone knows that a sizable chunk of the health-care dollar is spent unnecessarily. The third-party payment system encourages people to seek more care than they need, and doctors and hospitals readily deliver it--all because a third party pays the tab."
Since "people aren't used to inquring about alternate treatments or pricing or shopping for quality," adds personnel vice president Lawrence Baytos, "we are developing consumer-education programs to help fill the knowledge gaps."
More than 500 companies requested information from Quaker after the plan was mentioned in a trade newsletter. At least a dozen are implementing similar programs, notes Penzkover, who says it's "too soon to tell" how the new plan is working. Magazine Round-Up
Give You Strength: The best strategy for reviving run-tired muscles? "Staying off the road and resting," reports American Health magazine, citing a new study by researchers at the University of Texas and Ohio University.
Ten marathoners were divided into two groups: The first resumed light running the day after the race, while the second group rested. Within three days the loungers had regained their prerace strength. But even by the end of the week, those who continued running had not regained their strength.
Pre-Surgery Warm-Up: Don't undergo surgery without first preparing your body for the stress, advises Dr. Warren M. Levin, director of the World Health Medical Group, in Glamour magazine. He suggests:
About four to five weeks before surgery, stop drinking alcohol because it irritates the stomach and delays wound healing; stop smoking; stop ingesting sugar and caffeine; start taking additional zinc and Vitamins E, A and B-complex supplements to speed recovery. About two weeks before surgery, stop taking aspirin or related analgesics. Check with your doctor to make sure these recommendations are appropriate for you, and to find out if any other pre-surgery preparation will be helpful.
Working Themselves Sick: People with hard-driving "Type A" personalities are more likely to get colds and flu than their more laid-back "Type B" counterparts, reports Prevention magazine. When researchers at Colorado State University studied 30 Type-B and 30 Type-A students, they discovered: "Type A's got more upper respiratory infections than type B's--yet were less likely than B's to admit that their symptoms interfered with their day and less apt to treat those symptoms."