Low Cost Health Plans in R.I. to Require Weight Pledge

Workers who wish to enroll in low-cost “wellness” health plans now required by Rhode Island law must select a primary care physician, complete a health risk appraisal and pledge to remain at a healthy weight, state officials said this week.

State guidelines would also require participants to join weight management programs if morbidly obese, quit smoking or enter a program to quit and participate in disease and health care programs if needed.

“By reducing the costs of health care for small businesses, we hope we can help slow the rate of growth in the number of Rhode Islanders without health insurance,” Gov. Don Carcieri said in a statement. “The new plan will also emphasize primary care and preventative medicine.”

Carcieri this summer signed a law allowing the creation of discounted health insurance plans with premiums no more than 10 percent of the statewide average wage. An estimated 120,000 people in Rhode Island lack health insurance.

Insurers who wish to compete for a contract to insure the state’s work force must offer the plan.

Enrollees must promise to participate in the wellness program in the first year and prove their participation in the second year.