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The reward for showing your wellness program works is now $3 million!

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As almost everyone in the wellness industry knows, we have offered a $2 million reward to anyone who can show that conventional annual “pry, poke and prod” wellness saves money. I’m feeling very generous today, what with the holidays upon us, so let’s make the reward $3 million.

Even more importantly, let’s loosen the rules — a lot —  to encourage applicants. You’ll find the $3 million reward is not just more generous, but also far easier to claim than the previous $2 million reward.

Loosening the Rules

Except as indicated below, the rules stay the same as in the previous posting, but with the following relaxed standards. Most importantly, I’ll now accept the burden of persuasion. It is my job to convince the panel of judges, using the standard civil level of proof, that you are wrong, as opposed to you having to convince them that I am wrong.

Next, let’s expand the pool from which the judges can be drawn. It wasn’t very nice of me to allow you to choose from only the 300 people on Peter Grant’s exclusive healthcare policy listserve, since obviously no one invited into a legitimate healthcare policy listserve thinks wellness saves money.

In addition, you can also choose among the 200+ people on Brian Klepper’s email list and the 70 people on the Ethical Wellness email list.   And to make it totally objective, we will add as judges whatever two bloggers happen to be the leading dedicated health services research bloggers at the time of the application for the award, as measured by the ratio of Twitter followers-to-Twitter-following, with a minimum of 15,000 followers.

So judges are chosen as follows: two bloggers chosen by objective formula, plus we each choose six people from among the other 520, with the other party having veto rights for 5 of them. That gives a total of 4 judges, who will choose a fifth from among those roughly 500 people.

This means I only name one of the five judges, so I can’t “stack the deck,” not that I would need to.

The original rules included the requirement of defending Wellsteps’ Koop Award.  After all, the best vendor should be exemplary, right? A beacon for others to follow? A benchmark to show what’s possible when the best and brightest make employees happy and healthy?

However, now you have another option. You could instead just publicly acknowledge that the Koop Award committee is corrupt/incompetent, since that possibility cannot be ruled out as a logical explanation for Wellsteps winning that award. Your choice, but, one way or the other, the Wellsteps award must be addressed in your entry.

Next, you may bring as many experts with you to address the adjudication forum (a Washington, DC venue to be chosen later) as you wish to bring.  I, on the other hand, will be limited to myself. (The judges may also, by a supermajority of 4 to 1, declare a winner, with no in-person presentation needed.)

Further, you no longer have to defend the proposition that wellness as a whole has saved money. You can, if you prefer, simply acknowledge that most of it has failed…except you. Meaning that, if you are a wellness vendor that has been “profiled” on this site in the last 2 years, you can limit your defense to your own specific results. You don’t have to defend the swamp.

That new loophole allows, specifically, Interactive Health, Fitbit, Wellness Corporate Solutions, and especially Wellsteps to get rich…if what I have said specifically about them is wrong. I have $3 million that says it isn’t.

Special Offer for HERO

Ah, yes, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). The belly of the beast.

Let me make them a special offer. Paul Terry, the current HERO Prevaricator-in-Chief, has accused me of the following  (if you link, you’ll see they had enough sense not to use my name, likely on advice of counsel, given that I already almost sued them after they circulated their poison pen letter to the media):

I’m convinced responding to bloggers who show disdain for our field is an utter waste of time. I’ve rarely been persuaded to respond to bloggers [Editors note, in HERO-speak, “rarely” means “never” — except for that intercepted Zimmerman Telegram-like missive], and each time I did it affirmed my worry that, more than a waste, it’s counter-productive. That’s because they’ll not only incessantly recycle their original misstatements, but worse, they’ll misrepresent your response and use it as fodder for more disinformation.*

Tell ya what, Paul. let’s debate disinformation, including your letter.

I have asked you on multiple occasions to clue me in as to what my alleged disinformation actually is, if any. That way I can publicly apologize and fix it, should I choose to do so.  Before applying for this award, you need to disclose this alleged disinformation. You can’t just go around saying my information is made up etc. without specifying what it is.

By definition, “disinformation” is deliberate misrepresentation. To my knowledge, as a member of the “integrity segment” of the wellness industry, I have never, and would never, spread disinformation.

On the other hand, if I did spread inadvertently incorrect information by mistake, it seems only fair to let me fix it — especially given that I have been totally transparent and generous with my time in explaining to you what yours is, and how to correct it. (I might have missed some. Keeping up with yours is a challenge of Whack a Mole-meets-White House press correspondent proportions.)

So perhaps it is time to man up, Mr. Terry.  You and your cronies claim to have been collecting my “disinformation” for years, without disclosing any of it. I’m offering you a public forum and $3-million to present it…with only one of 5 judges on “my” side.

Otherwise, perhaps you should, in the immortal word(s) of the great philosopher Moe Howard, shaddap.

*As a side note, Mr. Terry writes: “We’re fortunate to work in an industry with a scant number of vociferous critics.” This “scant” number appears to include the entire medialeft-wing, right-wing, centrist, and health policyApparently also most employees, according to Towers Watson. The good news about “pry, poke and prod” is that it truly bridges the partisan divide, in that everyone hates it.

Update February 20, 2018:

One of the very stable geniuses in the wellness industry has decided that the reason no one applies for this award isn’t that they know they’ll lose.  It’s because a reward isn’t a valid offer. We would invite them to read this link.

This offer is completely legally binding. Anyone may claim the $3 million reward ($300,000 entry fee) for successfully convincing the arbitrator that it isn’t. Further, we agree in advance that if an arbitrator finds anything in here that keeps it from being legally binding, the arbitrator may rewrite it to his or her satisfaction in order to make this legally binding.

Update March to October 2018:

The new entry process is:

  1. Applicant puts $3000 into escrow (bank escrow fees to be 50-50 shared once escrow is completed), at which point an NDA is signed and I show tangible net worth (excluding primary and secondary residences — and any retirement accounts are accounted for net of tax penalty for early withdrawal) more than sufficient to pay the reward. Applicant may either go forward at this point, or forfeit the $3000 to me.
  2. Applicant adds $27,000, at which point earning assets exceeding $3,000,000 as valued at at lower of cost or mark-to-market are placed in escrow, and/or title is changed to the escrow agent, though I still receive the income until the reward is paid. If I fail to place that sum in escrow within 60 days, I pay a “liquidated damages” penalty of $100,000. The applicant is released from the NDA and may announce that I failed to deliver and they won by default. Assuming the $3,000,000 is sufficiently secured and the “liquidated damages” provision is not triggered, applicant may either go forward, or forfeit the $30,000 to me.
  3. Applicant adds $270,000 to the escrow within 30 days, at which point the entry process is completed, and the debate is held. Judges and expenses are paid out of the escrow.
  4. If the applicant pulls out after publicly announcing he or she is applying and before adding the $270,000, there is a $50,000 liquidated damages fee, tripled if it has to be procured through litigation. If I pull out, there is a $500,000 liquidated damages fee, tripled if it is procured through litigation.
  5. If I win the debate, the remaining escrow funds are released to me.
  6. If I lose the debate, the remaining escrow funds are released to the applicant.


  1. drjonrobison says:

    Great stuff – cannot wait to hear Terry respond! Also looking forward to joint celebrations of the holidays this season in the middle east! – Dr. Jon


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      These people are like my little dog. When a big dog is on a leash, he barks incessantly. But if a big dog is off a leash, he runs away.


  2. Mitch Collins says:

    Al: I am deeply concerned about you. Just what do you have against “THC-infused quixotry?” I’ve heard good things about it:)


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      I’m all for it, except as a business model. Their latest? Apparently simply admitting to know me is enough to get disinvited from speaking, because there is an off-chance someone who knows me might say something sensible. The only way they win a debate is by preventing it. The GOP should put them in charge of voter registration rules.


  3. Sam Lippe says:

    They’ll probably accuse you of bullying them


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Yes, likely some whiney ad hominem attack. They can’t challenge me on the merits because they have no merits. Bullying is pretty much of a stretch because bullies don’t generally offer rewards, but they are out of other options. More than likely, they won’t say anything — debate creates a news cycle, and news cycles are one of their biggest nightmares.


  4. Marissa says:

    Are you really willing to take this chance?


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      It’s not a chance. I only bet on sure things. And one thing is sure: HERO can’t win this reward. They are simply not smart enough to lie convincingly to a panel of five thoughtful evaluators. If they were truly skilled at the art of deception, they would have gone into the PBM industry, where liars can make some real money.


  5. […] for some reason don’t realize they aren’t doing their members any favors here, because mandatory screening loses money, even according to the wellness industry’s own trade association, and can also harm employees), […]


  6. Is this still valid? What are criteria for judging? Is this civil rule of more likely than not to have saved with a 4 to 1 majority needed or not? Can we present Trendline from 3 customers of over 10000 employees each and one
    Non randomized study in one group of 10 hospitals matched with 11 hospitals whose employees were not offered the wellness program. Thus 4 health systems or corps that avoided spending 17,35,38 and 46% compared to other hospitals in their system
    Or industry trends. If that is shown, would the 3 million be
    Awarded or the legal entity find a technicality to not pay


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      (1) Question is, does wellness save money?
      (2) Majority of judges only — you don’t need 4 on your side to win.
      (3) You’re not one of the vendors who has been invalidated and who can thus apply using their own data — and the specific rule is that you have to be a named dishonest vendor to claim savings based on your own data. So that is a “technicality” in the sense that the rules say it’s about wellness as a whole industry, with the exception being for the 5 most dishonest wellness vendors.

      There is no “technicality” on not paying. That is quite clearly laid out in the rules.


  7. […] None whatsoever. The entry fee is $300,000, and, believe me, it’s worth [the risk] with this impartial panel of five judges, of which I only get to appoint one and the burden of proof is on me. They don’t have a chance, which explains why nobody has tried to take me up on it. […]


  8. […] None whatsoever. The entry fee is $300,000, and, believe me, it’s worth [the risk] with this impartial panel of five judges, of which I only get to appoint one and the burden of proof is on me. They don’t have a chance, which explains why nobody has tried to take me up on it. […]


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