Employers Adopt Stricter Health Care Policies In Face Of Surging Costs

Cardboards logo of Michelin are displayed at the entrance of the headquarters of the French tyre group Michelin in Clermont-F
Cardboards logo of Michelin are displayed at the entrance of the headquarters of the French tyre group Michelin in Clermont-Ferrand, centre France, on May 11, 2012. Michelin should to temporarily suspend production in May and June at its factories in France and in Spain in response to the economic situation in Europe and the mild winter, said today the newly elected head of Michelin, Jean-Dominique Senard. AFP PHOTO / THIERRY ZOCCOLAN (Photo credit should read THIERRY ZOCCOLAN/AFP/GettyImages)

Faced with rising health care costs, employers are adopting stricter policies to keep workers healthy. Failure to comply with those measures could hurt employees' wallets.

Workers at tire manufacturer company Michelin could miss out on reducing their deductibles by up to $1,000 if they show unhealthy signs like high blood pressure or waistlines over 40 inches, The Wall Street Journal reports. Companies such as Walmart and Home Depot have similar policies, designed to reduce surging health care costs. But often these new policies require employees to share personal health information, something critics say is both unfair and an invasion of privacy.

With health care costs rising in 2012 to $12,136 per employee on average, according to a recent study, companies argue that the new policies not only help cut costs, but also contribute to the overall well being of their workforces.

Indeed, Michelin told The Huffington Post that The Wall Street Journal’s claim that the company is penalizing workers for showing signs of obesity is not accurate. Instead, the new policy set to take effect next year “helps us help our employees” by rewarding workers who meet standards for at least three of five health indicators, such as waist size, cholesterol and blood pressure.

CVS made a similar defense in March of its new “wellness review” policy, which will dock employees $600 if they elect not to disclose personal health information to the company’s insurance provider. The policy is designed to “help our colleagues engage more actively to improve their health and manage health-associated costs,” a CVS representative wrote The Huffington Post in an email in March.

Fair or not, it’s likely that more companies will soon adopt stricter policies regarding employee health. Sixty percent said they plan on penalizing workers who don’t meet health standards in the future, according to a recent survey by Aon. Meanwhile, 80 percent say they’ll soon increase the cost of employee insurance premiums, a separate survey found.



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