Lobbyists Strike At Wellness Programs
Wellness programs are not faring well as a campaign is mounting to strike a provision for them from reform legislation. Roll Call reports that "innocuous sounding 'wellness programs' that many employers would like to see included as part of health care reform legislation have sparked a lobbying campaign by disease groups, consumer organizations and unions. They argue that the programs could potentially make health insurance unaffordable for some people and could compromise workers' privacy" (Ackley, 6/17).
USA Today also reports on sometimes-controversial wellness programs. The paper notes that companies that use them must "confront employee concerns about privacy and discrimination and be ready for potential backlash from employees who don't like bosses pushing them to ramp up workouts or quit smoking." Lucinda Jesson, a professor at Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, who has done extensive research on workplace wellness says: "Done right, done well, these can be a good thing". Done wrong, they can come across as an "unwarranted intrusion into our personal lives." USA Today also notes that "employees may be taken aback when their company hires an outside vendor to review insurance claims and contact employees to offer health-oriented services. To head off problems, companies should spread the message that an employer sees only aggregate data, not individual results, and that employee privacy is protected by law, says Michael Wood, a Watson Wyatt senior health and productivity consultant. Businesses should also stress ahead of time that all information between an employee and that outside company is private, he says" (Petrecca, 6/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.