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ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 16370
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Biometric Screening For Health Insurance

Resolved Question:

Is biometric screening a violation of HIPPA laws by employers if they get it and make you pay additional premiums if you won't submit to it?

Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 years ago.

It's only a violation of HIPAA laws if the employer is given a report or told any confidential information relating to you personally. The only thing that the insurance company can give the employer is a summary report with individuals de-identified. HIPAA prevents anyone at your place of employment from receiving your results. The results are for the insurance company only, so that they can identify certain risk factors and help physicians lower certain risk factors for diseases and other conditions.

Look at it this way... if you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but do not know it, you could have a heart attack soon. Clearly that's much more expensive for an insurance company to pay for than for some drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. That's why they do it.

In terms of the additional premiums and the legality of them, there's nothing to say that they're illegal, in that there's no law prohibiting them or mandating that all employees get the same premium regardless. The only caveat is if your state prohibited this behavior, but I cannot find a single state that prohibits it in my search of the law.

I'm sorry if this is not what you wanted to hear. I hope it clears things up anyway. Good luck to you!

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

My Follow Up-

1) How can I/we be sure that no medical information is passed on to the employer in any way?

2) I know they cannot legally release people due to medical issues that have no impact on their jobs, but in these economic times of uncertainty I am aware of employees with medical or advanced ages being targeted for lay-offs. Both from Public and Private companies.

3) How can they financially penalize an employee for not submitting to the Biometric Screening especially if they are already under a physicians care?

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 years ago.

1) Do not sign a waiver, or limit the amount of information that you allow to be released. Also, bring a written request to your physician revoking your consent to release information regarding your condition to your insurance company and/or your employer. Finally, call your insurance company and make it abundantly clear that you want your medical information kept private under the HIPAA laws. Here's an article about how you can proactively work to keep your records safe.

2) Bear in mind that a wrongful termination that is in violation of wrongfully obtained health information, age discrimination, etc..., is actionable under Federal law. If this happens to you, find a lawyer immediately and sue them.

3) The insurance company operates on risk. The more they know about your health condition, the better their preventative care can be and the lower their costs are. Also, the better your health is, and the less likely you are to have a major medical issue. They can financially penalize you to keep costs down. Technically speaking (on the balance sheet) they are likely to give those who participate a $20 bi-monthly discount, rather than penalizing non-compliance, but to get more people to participate in the program, from a psychological standpoint, people are twice as likely to act based on something they might lose rather than what they might gain. So if they say they'll take $20 away from you if you don't do this, you are more likely to do it, than if they said they'll give you $20 if you do it, even though result is the same.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

ScottyMacEsq and 6 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 7 years ago.

You are welcome!!