Can your employer fine you for your waist size?
Controversial new measures to lower healthcare costs among Florida’s corporate workers may be treading on employees’ rights, according to newly released information. As healthcare costs soar to more than $12,000 per employee, companies are increasingly transitioning from incentive-based programs to penalties such as fines and mandatory health counseling.
Studies show that 20 percent of American employers are already implementing the penalties, with about 60 percent planning to implement the changes within the next five years. Workers who do not improve their health will be outright penalized for their inability to lower their blood pressure, change their smoking status or lose weight, according to industry professionals. Companies such as Michelin are already requiring larger workers to pay $1,000 more in health insurance premiums annually than their thinner coworkers. Honeywell imposes fines for people who choose to have joint replacement surgery rather than exploring non-invasive options.
Patients’ rights organizations are understandably infuriated about the invasion of privacy that accompanies these health insurance mandates. Advocates note that the penalties could easily lead to a slippery slope of fines and punishments for people who engage in risky sexual activity, eat fast food on occasion and even drink alcohol.
Employees are required to submit incredibly invasive information to their employers, such as CVS Caremark. Its more than 200,000 employees will be subject to extra insurance costs if their body fat, blood glucose and blood pressure are unacceptable by arbitrary company standards. Little to no regulation exists to protect employees whose medical information has been collected by these companies. As a result, employees’ rights to privacy could be violated through the sale or distribution of this sensitive data.
People who think they have been discriminated against at work because of their health conditions should speak to a qualified attorney to discuss their legal options.
Source: orlandosentinal.com, “Employees’ unhealthy habits have growing effect on their insurance premiums,” Kate Santich, April 12, 2013