The 35-year-old medical director of the plan’s office of medical policy and technology assessment has broad interests, but he’s particularly keen on wellness because it “ties into the evidentiary component of my position—evaluating the scientific literature to support evidence-based medicine.” His take: Rely less on active patient participation.

Humana says that 50,000 of its employees are ahead of schedule when it comes to achieving their wellness goals, according to a Humana progress report. The company’s wellness program, Bold Goal, set certain benchmarks it wants participating employees to reach by 2020.

Even as they’ve become more and more popular with employers, wellness programs have taken hits in recent years with naysayers arguing that the effort discriminates against some workers by leveling fines for not reaching benchmarks and also represent an invasion of privacy.

No! argues Al Lewis. Lewis, a vociferous critic of the programs, is the CEO of Quizzify, the leading employee health care education company. Yes! rebuts Harris Allen, PhD. Allen, a determined defender of wellness, leads the Harris
Allen Group, an independent consultancy that promotes sustainability in health care.

Last year’s fiasco at Penn State represents just one crack in the wellness armor. Worker resentment rises as experts begin to question the effectiveness of such programs. But employers still believe and so long as there are buyers, there will be sellers.

The positive effects of wellness programs on mental health are negligible at best, according to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion. The study says that “a wellness center can improve physical health and has limited or no effect on maintaining mental health.”