Some are calling this the other Penn State scandal.
The university’s 40,000 employees have been told they must answer an online questionnaire as part of a school wellness program or have $100 dollars withheld from their paychecks every month. … Penn State professor Matthew Woessner says that the survey goes too far. It asks not just about height and weight, but also inquires about personal ailments, feelings of depression and use of tobacco.
One question reads: “have you had five or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting in the last six months?”Men are also asked: “do you do a monthly testicular self exam?”
The school says all information is confidential, but critics aren’t so sure and worry about hacking and other forms of disclosure.
In answer to their concerns, Penn State put out some FAQs. That $100 fine? They say it’s all above board.
Question: Is it legal to charge me $100 a month if I don’t complete the wellness profile?
Answer: The imposition of the surcharge is within the scope of permissible variations in benefits permitted under HIPAA’s non-discrimination rules. As long as the wellness incentives are limited to 20 percent of the total cost of coverage (the “COBRA Rate,” rather than what active employees are charged) in 2013, and less than 30 percent in 2014, the wellness-related surcharges are permissible.
Question: Why must I comply with these requirements?
Answer: The program is not mandatory. Ultimately, participation in the Take Care of Your Health initiative is an employee’s personal choice. As individuals and families, we all have choices to make about our participation and how we allocate our personal health care dollars. Employees may opt-out of the wellness initiatives and instead pay the surcharge.
Sounds like Obamacare.