Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Safeway Amendment": wellness, v. pre-existing conditions in health care debate


The Washington Post Business Section on Sunday Jan. 17 weighed in on the wellness aspect of the health care debate with the article by David S. Hilzenrath, “A success story that isn’t shapes the health-care debate: Blood tests and weigh-ins; Misleading claims drive ‘Safeway Amendment’”, with link here. This article ties in with an AlterNet piece discussed here Jan. 12.

The “Safeway Amendment” would allow rewards and penalties for the results of “wellness tests”, supposedly rewarding or penalizing behavior (in employer health insurance groups and in other circumstances). On the other hand, the provision could cross the line in a principle that was supposed to do away with the pre-existing conditions problem, that health insurance premiums should not be influenced by health status. The wellness tests arguably invade privacy, and with some health conditions it is difficult to draw the line between behavior and factors beyond a person’s control. (The article gives a graphic dialogue involving cigarette smoking.) How would STD's and HIV be treated?

Safeway Stores, however, claims that its plan for non-union employees has been effective, a claim that the article disputes.

In my last year at ING (2001), we were paid a slight bonus for agreeing to an annual physical.

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