Invasion of Privacy at Penn State?

17 September 2013 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

A number of Penn State employees are protesting a new requirement to provide personal health data to a private company or be fined by the school. “For me, discussing my reproductive plans with an unknown entity at an insurance company does not constitute private” a faculty member stated in a NY Times report.

Although the “Wellness” plan is promoted as means to reduce health care cost for the university, now there is an organized protest since each employee who fails to provide the data can be fined $1,200/year ($100 per month) and a separate $1,200/year ($100 a month) “if a spouse or domestic partner with the option of health coverage through his or her own employer chooses to be on the employee’s Penn State plan instead.”

Each employee is required to complete a questionnaire which is submitted to Highmark Health Services through WebMD Health Services which:

...asks whether employees have recently had problems with a supervisor, a separation or a divorce, their finances or a fear of job loss; another question asks female employees whether they plan to become pregnant over the next year.

Even if HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) privacy is being protected by Highmark and WebMD, the mandatory personal questions create a vexing privacy issue for Penn State employees.

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