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Group Health Insurance
Sep 11, 2006

Yes I wrote you a letter a few weeks ago about where I work insisting that we join a welness program, which includes a test for use of tobacco, and blood work where they check things like lipids, complete blood count, ect. If you do not do this they make you pay smokers premiums on your insurance payment. I do not smoke and do not mind the tobacco test but I am HIV and alot of the medicine I am on effects my lipids and also completle blood count. I do not want my employer to find out that I am HIV. Can they legally make you go through this program are with Hippa am I entiled to keep my personal health to myself and my Doctor and not where I work. The reason I am writing this letter again is I never heard from you and I thought my e-mail may have got lost. I would appreciate your opinion on this matter. Thanks

Response from Ms. Franzoi

I am aware of companies that require employees who are smokers to take smoking cessation classes or pay higher premiums for health and life insurance benefits. Some companies won't hire smokers. I have not heard of a company requiring a participant to prove through bloodwork whether or not he was a smoker. However, some companies provide a discount in employee cost for health benefits to those employees who participate in wellness programs or complete health risk assessments. Doing health risk assessments is a new trend in health care with the thought that it encourages individuals to be aware of their health conditions, to take charge of their health care and to follow healthy lifestyles in the hope of managing the ever increasing cost of health care. The program you are describing might just be this, i.e., your company's way of encouraging all employees to complete a health risk assessment. I'm assuming that the health risk assessment is done by a third party. That organization could not legally share any health-related information (except whether or not you were a smoker) with the company. I would think the company has checked out the legality of what they are doing. I do not think it is illegal since you do have the right to decline to participate with the result that you pay higher premiums.

HIV and wet environment
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