Collecting Employee Health Information-is it Legal?

Boston, Aug 14, 2013 — Q. My company offers a wellness program as part of our health insurance. I love the on-site exercise classes and yoga. Some people go to weight loss groups. Now they want to collect information on us – what we weigh and even more personal health information, which can affect what we pay for insurance. Is this legal?

A. Both employers and employees have been hit hard by crippling health insurance premiums. In an effort to bring down costs, many companies have tried to encourage employees to participate in voluntary health and wellness programs such as yoga, discounted gym memberships, weight loss and smoking cessation. Unfortunately, the results from these voluntary programs have been underwhelming and health insurance costs continue to skyrocket. Now companies are trying a different approach: asking employees to divulge sensitive personal information such as height, weight, cholesterol and glucose levels and to actively participate in exercise and disease management programs. Employees may be rewarded with insurance discounts or punished with premium increases in order to insure compliance.

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