Dare I Mention... Prevention?
I've mentioned a couple times that I work for a "healthcare corporation." We're a fairly large organization, so our corporation has its own health insurance company. As everyone knows, healthcare costs only know how to do one thing... get more expensive. This year, our corporation began doing more to help curb these costs as much as possible. Employees were asked to see a physician for some sort of preventative screening (a physical, lipid panel, colonoscopy, mammogram etc.).
The preventative screenings that count toward this condition are all fully covered under the insurance plan, so they come at no cost to employees. It's my understanding that the corporation's goal is to have people be more engaged in their personal health so they can take action to live healthier lives (that have the added benefit of being cheaper for the insurance company). As a caveat, you'll notice that I never mentioned any of this was a "requirement." Our corporation says if you participate in the preventative screenings, you get a cheaper premium; if you don't, you have a more expensive one. So the choice falls on us the employees.
I read in a Wall Street Journal article today that Penn State University is doing something similar by having employees fill out questionnaires and partake in preventative screenings. It seems that there's been a bit of a public backlash to Penn State's implementation of this "wellness program." My question is, "why?" I can appreciate that people are concerned their health information may be viewed by the wrong people, but HIPAA requires that organizations only use aggregate data, not individual data. Is the pushback on this solely based on privacy issues? Isn't it a good thing that people are more aware of their health status? To my knowledge, the earlier you find almost any disease or ailment, the better, so why not partake in preventative screening? And don't these health questionnaires help identify areas where our personal health habits may be lacking?
Any thoughts from the blogosphere? Do you think insurance companies have a right to ask for or require preventative screenings or health questionnaires? Do you think it makes a difference?