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    Tennessean: Employers tell workers to get healthy or pay up

    The Tennessean reports on the issue of employee medical privacy:

    Instead of waiting to pick up the tab when someone gets sick, more employers now expect their workers to be engaged in staying healthy. They want workers to get annual physicals, know whether they have diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol and then take actions to control the conditions.

    Next year, one third of employers in the United States plan to reward or penalize workers depending upon their commitment to improving their health. That’s a significant jump compared with just 7 percent in 2011, according to a survey commissioned by the National Business Group on Health. […]

    While insurance companies with familiar names may administer health coverage, they don’t pay the bills. The employers do. “They literally write checks to the medical claims out of their general assets,” [said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit organization whose members provide coverage for more than 55 million Americans.]

    The anticipated cost per employee is expected to reach $11,176 this year, up from $10,387 in 2010, according to the survey.

    Enticements for workers to have healthier lifestyles, such as reimbursements for gym memberships, have had limited success. Now, more employers are expecting workers to bear more of the cost. The average hike for employees this year is expected to be just under 12 percent. […]

    To qualify for reduced-cost insurance plans, employees will have to agree to monitor and try to improve their health conditions. But practices such as nurses performing on-the-job blood tests and health coaches calling people in their homes raise privacy concerns. […]

    In addition to privacy, there are legal issues.

    Although genetic predisposition testing by employers is illegal, many workers do not know this. Nor do workers trust employers or insurance companies to be their health guardians. So employers are hiring third-party administrators to help their workers monitor their medical conditions.

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