Health

How Employers, Insurance Companies are Tracking Employees' Personal Lives (Video)

| by Michael Allen

It's common knowledge that many employers and insurance companies are tracking where employees buy medications, get dental care and go for medical checkups.

However, it may come as a surprise that some employers and insurance giants are also tracking what employees eat, where they shop and how much weight they are putting on (video below).

Some of this tracking is actually bought from companies such as your local grocery store, if you use a "rewards card."

Employers say the goal of all this snooping is to lower health-care and insurance costs while also helping employees.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina are buying data on more than 3 million people in employer group plans. If someone purchases plus-size clothing, the health plan could flag him or her for potential obesity and then send mailings offering weight-loss solutions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 1,600 employees at four U.S. workplaces, including the City of Houston, strapped on armbands that tracked exercise habits, calories burned and vital signs.

"Everybody is using these databases to sell you stuff," says Daryl Wansink, director of health economics for the Blue Cross unit. "We happen to be trying to sell you something that can get you healthier."

"It's a slippery-slope deal," says Dr. Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights, which advocates for medical-data confidentiality.

Johnson & Johnson pays employees $500 to submit their biometrics and other health information. The company then offers eligible employees an additional $250 if they get pregnancy counseling, enroll in a disease-management program or get a colonoscopy.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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