[Ed. – Media slavishly depict this as employers coercing their employees. You’re being lied to, folks. When government rules make it financially impossible for employers to avoid compelling blood tests from their employees, the problem is GOVERNMENT. It’s not the employer. The only thing “soft” about this is that it’s still shrouded in misleading media coverage, instead of just happening in your face, at the point of a gun.]
Like many employers, Flambeau uses a wellness program to cut insurance costs by encouraging healthy employee habits. In the past, submitting to on-site tests of blood pressure, body-mass, and cholesterol meant saving a few hundred dollars. Now companies such as Flambeau have gone a step farther, denying healthcare entirely to those who don’t participate. People like Arnold must instead pay for more expensive coverage through the government’s COBRA program.
According to several federal courts—including one that ruled in favor of Flambeau—this is all perfectly legal.
In a case filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. government argued that Flambeau’s wellness program didn’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which limits companies from requiring medical exams or personal health information from workers. Denying employer-sponsored coverage crosses the line from voluntary to coercive, the EEOC contended.
Not so, said a federal judge in Madison, Wisc., who ruled on Dec. 31 that employers can deny coverage without violating the ADA as long as the data gleaned from the wellness program is used for purposes of overall health coverage.