Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Health Assessment

In 2008 our company instituted a new policy: every employee would have to go a health assessment to determine if they were going to have to pay a premium on their health insurance. The first year was a base year, but as long as the employee showed upward progress or scored above a certain amount, they were given the "subsidizied" amount.

The health assessment our company gives consists of a blood test (for cholesterol, glucose levels, nicotine, etc), weight (which, I'm pretty sure is calibrated incorrectly), height, and waist size. The first year went off pretty swimmingly, and even included company-paid counceling if you needed to improve your health in any way.

Then the sentiment around the office changed. Smokers realized they were being set up to fail the exam based on the points accrued for nicotine. Spouses who wanted to be on the health plan had to be tested starting in 2009, which many felt was too invasive. And, rumors abound that Human Resources was getting a hold of the test results which would have been in direct violation of the confidentiality agreement we signed when testing began.

Now, many employees try to find any way around the testing. Some have their doctors write notes. Others go on their spouses plans which are less intrusive. And a select few decided it was worth paying the extra money not to have their company perform tests on them.

This is a big issue. Companies need to make sure this type of process is a trustworthy one. If the information is shared, it not only violates laws and the agreements that employees entered into, but also creates friction between HR/management and employees. With soaring healthcare costs, many companies are looking for fair ways to reduce costs and this seems like a good one on the face. But unless a company can get voluntary buy-in from the employees, it's a system that is doomed to fail.


1 comment:

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