Workers Told Get Checkups or Lose Insurance
It’s become almost universally agreed that prevention is
the easiest and least expensive way to stay healthy. Eat right, exercise,
don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess and other steps are seen as the
means to ward off many chronic diseases and causes of death.
Many companies offering health insurance have begun offering
voluntary programs, sometimes with financial incentives, designed to identify
potential health problems and deal with them early. Until now, as a Wall
Street Journal article points out, most companies have not mandated tests
or behaviors over concerns about the legality of such actions.
An exception to that rule is AmeriGas Propane Inc., which
has given workers the option of going for medical checkups or losing their
Bill Katz, vice president for human resources, told the Journal that
the company began mandating physicals and a variety of diagnostic tests because “optional
programs just don’t work.”
According to the consulting firm of Towers, Perrin, Forster & Crosby,
45 percent of companies are considering or planning to add penalties for
workers who do not participate in wellness programs.
While mandated programs may help protect the health of
workers, not everyone is on board with the concept.”This is a personal health
matter,” Gerry Shea, assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO, told the Journal. “To
bring it into the workplace and tie it to benefits is inappropriate. It’s
like Big Brother.”
The AmeriGas program has not had time to prove itself out
one way or the other yet, said Mr. Katz. But, he added, the hope is that
it will help “improve the health of our employees and save money over time.”
Discussion Question: Are you
in favor of companies mandating certain tests or personal behaviors as
a requirement for medical coverage?