Employer charging unhealthy employees

I love this idea.

In late June, the Indianapolis-based hospital system announced that starting in 2009, it will fine employees $10 per paycheck if their body mass index (BMI, a ratio of height to weight that measures body fat) is over 30. If their cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels are too high, they’ll be charged $5 for each standard they don’t meet. Ditto if they smoke: Starting next year, they’ll be charged another $5 in each check.

In short, the healthy will not subsidize the unhealthy as much.

Question 1: Is this move legal? The article hints that this is within the guidelines of HIPAA. However, is this/could this be a form of discrimination? There is more discussion of this at the end of the article.

Question 2: Will these penalties even matter? The average consumer carries over $8000 of credit card debt, probably at a very high interest rate. There are many many options to consolidate that debt to lower interest options and save thousands in interest per year. Would a consumer that does not take charge of their credit card debt, notice and take charge of deductions off of their paychecks?

Despite the outstanding questions, I applaud Clarian Health for taking the lead in fighting rising costs.

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