finger-prick.jpgYou’re all costing your employers too much money in health care costs and they’re done being nice about encouraging you to get healthier.

The wife of a Las Vegas casino dealer recently wrote us at MSNBC upset that her husband was asked by his managers at the hotel where he works to take a biometric health assessment test. Such tests typically include a health professional taking an employee’s blood and then having it tested for an array of ailments.

The reader wrote that her husband would be fined $500 if he refused to take the test. Such assessments, she added, were “an egregious violation of my husband’s medical privacy.” She’s contacted the Nevada Department of Labor and the ACLU in order to get help to fight the requirement.

Unfortunately, the couple may not have a legal leg to stand on if the dealer doesn’t allow them to prick his finger.

About 70 percent of larger employers now conduct employee health assessments, and more and more are considering taking the stick approach to workers who refuse to take such exams.

According to November report by health consulting firm Mercer:

Workforce health management, or “wellness”, has emerged as employers’ top long-term strategy for controlling health spending. When asked about a long-term response to the changes initiated by health reform, an astonishing 87% of large employers say they will add or strengthen programs or policies to encourage more health-conscious behavior.

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Forcing employees to take medical tests was considered a no no by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because the agency saw it as violating disability discrimination laws, but a court ruling last year gave employers the green light to perform such exams as part of their wellness efforts, and include penalties to get reluctant workers to play along.

That doesn’t mean employers can fire you or demote you because they find out your have some sort of underlying disability. That’s still illegal. But they can penalize you for refusing to take the test. There are limits on how much they can penalize you though. At this point, employers can only limit the fines to 20 percent of the cost of an employee’s total health insurance premiums. But under healthcare reform, that percentage will climb to 30 percent.

There are also strict privacy rules when it comes to your health information. Employers are restricted from seeing the results of your test and are only given aggregate information about what’s wrong with their overall workforce. The employees, however, can get a detailed report on a host of medical issues, including everything from your cholesterol to glucose levels.

The whole process does smack of big brother, but for now with little legal challenge to the recent ruling, workers may just have to offer their finger to their employers, or they can decide to give the finger and risk getting hit in the wallet.

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