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Health Risk Reduction Programs in Employer-Sponsored Health Plans: Part II—Law and Ethics

Rothstein, Mark A. JD; Harrell, Heather L. MD, JD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 8 - p 951-957
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181b05435
Original Articles

Objective: We sought to examine the legal and ethical implications of workplace health risk reduction programs (HRRPs) using health risk assessments, individually focused risk reduction, and financial incentives to promote compliance.

Methods: We conducted a literature review, analyzed relevant statutes and regulations, and considered the effects of these programs on employee health privacy.

Results: A variety of laws regulate HRRPs, and there is little evidence that employer-sponsored HRRPs violate these provisions; infringement on individual health privacy is more difficult to assess.

Conclusion: Although current laws permit a wide range of employer health promotion activities, HRRPs also may entail largely unquantifiable costs to employee privacy and related interests.

From the Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Ky.

Address correspondence to: Mark A. Rothstein, JD, Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy and Law, University of Louisville School of Medicine, 501 East Broadway 310, Louisville, KY 40202; E-mail: mark.rothstein@louisville.edu.

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine