06 November 2014

A critique of corporate health-care plans

From an op-ed piece in the StarTribune:
Honeywell International, founded in Minnesota, recently implemented a plan to reduce health care costs and promote healthy living for employees.

Sounds good so far.

But the company went a step further by penalizing workers financially if they and their spouses refused to agree to a biometric testing.

That’s a harmless enough sounding concept. But what it means is you let medical providers for the company draw blood to check for health problems, such as diabetes. It means they would also would test you, and your spouse, for blood pressure, HDL, total cholesterol and glucose. 

Oh, and they’d need your height and weight, and that of your spouse. And while they’re at it, let’s run a tape measure around your waistline to see how you are doing with that diet.
Failure to agree to the tests brings a hefty price, up to $4,000 per family in penalties and lost company contributions.
More details at the link.


  1. Gives added meaning to "wage SLAVE"

  2. If your employer dictated where you lived, where you shopped for food, what car you can buy, what car insurance company you must use, and what TV channels you could watch, there would be rioting in the streets and it would be outlawed (I think it already is). Yet we in the US have no problem letting our employer make our medical care decisions for us.

    In light of the recent Hobby Lobby, which now lets your employer use religion as an excuse to deny you care, it is time we outlawed this. Companies don't want to be in the health care business in addition to their core business. This need to be decided, paid for, and controlled by the individuals. No different than any of the millions of other decisions you make on what you buy and how you buy it.

    Companies can take that money they use to pay for medical admin, premiums, etc and boost salaries. Or better yet, pay a medicare levy that assures that all Americans have a basic minimum health care coverage. It would be cheaper too.

  3. This is nothing new. My company is doing this for the third time this year. Every year, the insurance company tells me the same things, which I knew already anyway - get more exercise, lose a little weight. They also charge more if you have used tobacco at all in the last year. Cigar on poker night? Rates go way up!

  4. And what is to keep them from running your DNA to find out if you have a genetic predisposition for cancer, diabetes, or a host of other maladies?

    This is just another reason we need to get the insurance companies out of the loop and institute single-provider health insurance for all citizens.

  5. Health care should be not-for-profit. Employers should have nothing to do with it. Americans, hell the world, should boycott all insurance - of any and every kind - until reform is enacted. I know what I am saying and how difficult (and fraught) this would be. But we have got to "Network" the entire industry - we're mad as hell... State Farm dropped home owner's insurance in Florida because of several well-placed hurricanes that hurt their profits ONE year. There's something wrong with your business model if you don't plan for a bad year and just say we'll opt out. They're trying to get back in now that there haven't been bad storms in years - think I'm going to trust them?

  6. My employer does something similar -- a third party tests us for blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, and nicotine use, and if we meet goals (no tobacco use, BP =< 120/80, BMI & cholesterol at "ideal" levels) we get a slight savings in our share of the cost of healthcare. As it is a third party, my employer and my health insurance don't see the results, they just learn how many of the points we earn (each item is 1 point).
    I am actually in favor of encouraging better health habits etc. but they set the bar so high for BMI most of my coworkers have given up on it. Actually I'm a fairly healthy vegetarian and I don't usually meet the cholesterol target -- which is arbitrarily low, making some suspect the whole point is make it nearly impossible to meet the goals.
    But obviously we need to overhaul medicine in this country and see it as a public service, not a business. Some day. Maybe.

  7. In any civilized country (that has the means*), health care is a human right.

    * http://usaction.org/oreos/

  8. At the nonprofit where I work we've had to get in line for this every year for the last 3 years. It's awful yet we all have to do it or we will have to pay twice as much. Sickens me how so many Americans just hate the thought of government providing access to insurance but they don't mind huge multi-national insurance corporations taking their blood, their body weight and more. And they make us answer the most intrusive questions: "do you have a best friend at work?", "how much do you sleep?", "do you eat dinner at a regular time" and more. Sickening!!! Orwellian! I need my job and my insurance but every year it's all I can do to keep from screaming "NO".

  9. I work in wellness and can testify that while this may seem intrusive, your employer already has a relationship with your insurer. If you don't think they know exactly how much your conditions cost to manage (at the very least in the aggregate), then you had better think again. Just another reason that we need to de-couple insurance from employment. They use these programs so that they can reduce costs for preventable conditions and can point to the data gathered for justification of any additional programs they put in place to benefit the employee and their bottom line. Numbers talk...especially to management. They also believe that giving you an incentive (your money) to care about your health, they may be making more people aware of their conditions, as many people avoid doctors for a variety of reasons. It is not all super evil...just the root of it is!


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