NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Employers are Taking Greater Interest in Workers' Health

March 10, 2003

In an effort to hold down health care costs, more companies are assessing the health and health habits of their workers.

  • The questions being asked can range from amounts of alcohol consumed to whether workers are eating their vegetables.
  • One Kentucky company compensates employees with an additional $200 in their pay envelopes for voluntarily filling out an annual health risk assessment.
  • Some employers are even offering bonuses for keeping cholesterol in check.

Legal experts say some of these practices could run afoul of federal law if they discriminate against workers with health problems -- and then there is the threat of union objections and concerns over privacy.

While participation in many of the programs is voluntary, even new federal privacy laws may not cover some programs.

Source: Julie Appleby, "Employers Get Nosy About Workers' Health," USA Today, March 6, 2003.

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