Ted Kyle on MSNBC: 3 Ethical Issues for Wellness Programs

MSNBC examined three ethical issues for wellness programs in a recent segment with ConscienHealth founder Ted Kyle and bioethics professor Mark Rothstein from the University of Louisville. Three ethical issues stood out in the discussion:

  1. Personal Privacy. Worker revolts against wellness programs at Penn State and CVS provide very public evidence that people resent employers prying into and trying to control very private aspects of their personal lives.
  2. Soaking the Poor. Penalties based on health status allowed under the Affordable Care Act will hit low-wage workers hard, while having little effect on high-wage employees. Some employers will hit people with a 30% penalty on their cost of health insurance if they don’t meet goals for weight and other health factors.
  3. Treatment Access. MSNBC host Crag Melvin highlighted ConscienHealth research documenting that most employees who must participate in a wellness program to get full health benefits are not covered for the treatment of obesity by their employer’s health plan.

Some employers have gone to great lengths to foster a healthy workplace. They offer wellness benefits that genuinely put an employee’s health first.

But others are obviously using these programs as a subterfuge for discrimination against employees with obesity and other chronic diseases. Because of these bad actors, you can expect ethical issues to create an ugly distraction. The mistrust and backlash that results will be sobering. Ethical issues will prove to be the undoing for ill-conceived wellness programs.

People do not take kindly to strangers telling them how much they should weigh.

Click here for an examination of legal and ethical concerns with employer wellness programs from the American Bar Association.

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