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Self-Insured Plans and Disclosure
Jun 1, 2001

Thanks in advance for your time. My employer is self-insured. When they apply to insurance companies in attempts to be covered by an insurance company, they have employees complete a medical questionnaire. Of course, one of the questions is about HIV/AIDS. It has been stated several times on this forum that such information is to be held in the strictest of confidence by the HR Director. I am on the inside and know for a fact that this information is often disclosed without consent from the employee. These questionnaires are often discussed by upper management. It is often the case that self-insured organizations are usually smaller. This situation lends itself to the sharing of information because the HR Director interacts more with upper management. In addition, upper management is looking for ways to not be self-insured due to the cost of paying claims. An HR Director would certainly win brownie points by making this information known. My point is, in a perfect world, this information should be confidential, but unfortunately in many cases, it is shared. I cannot help but think somehow this information eventually effects the employee's future. A few questions. Is it not illegle for an employer to ask you of your HIV status? Is asking this not a violation of special Human Rights laws? Is requiring employees to complete these questionnaires not in some way a violation of that persons right to confidentiality in regards to HIV/AIDS? In essence, the employer is asking the question. What would be the consequences of just not answering honestly if you are aware of this information being shared inappropriately? In terms of utilization reviews and third parties revealing the information to your employer, in my state it is my understanding that the disclosure of the positive result of an HIV Anti-body test is against the law. Even though disclosing the diagnosis is technically different from the disclosure of a positive test, the end result is the same. Your employer knows. Is there not someway to protect yourself from this situation? If you did find yourself without a job after your employer found out about your health status, what courses of action should the employee take? What are the most common outcomes of such a situation?

Response from Ms. Franzoi

I would question the employer's need to know any medical information. You are right that the employer has a legal obligation to keep this confidential. If it is not, or it is unfairly used against an employee, the employee would have the right to take action. If this were to occur, I would suggest contacting an attorney to determine your rights.



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