MarketWatch says Companies are Tracking Employees’ Medical Data to Cut Costs

Although it’s hard to tell if all you’re watching is the news, there are actually other current events effecting your health insurance besides the changes coming in 2014 as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act becomes fully engaged.  For example, SmartBrief shared a MarketWatch article about companies cutting medical expenses by using employees’ market research data.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina recently began buying spending data on more than 3 million people in its employer group plans. If someone, say, purchases plus-size clothing, the health plan could flag him for potential obesity—and then call or send mailings offering weight-loss solutions.”  Of course, employers claim they only get information in the aggregate which they can use “to lower health-care and insurance costs while also helping workers.”  And they most certainly would not know if that employee was buying a birthday gift for a caring neighbor who had watered their plants while they were on vacation.

“Some critics worry that the methods cross the line between protective and invasive—and could lead to job discrimination. ‘It’s a slippery-slope deal,’ says Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights, which advocates for medical-data confidentiality.  “Companies say tracking employees’ medical data saves money because they use it to make people healthier—and sometimes reward them in other ways, too.”

Johnson & Johnson, for example, pays employees $500 to submit their biometrics and other health information; J&J then offers eligible employees an additional $250 if they get pregnancy counseling, enroll in a disease-management program or get their colonoscopy on time.”

With companies under more pressure than ever to reduce health-care spending, are they collecting data their employees wouldn’t want to share?  Are employees feeling pressured to share data they wouldn’t want to share?  Is your employer collecting your data?  Please share your experience and your thoughts on this topic either in the comment section below, or on our Facebook page.

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