Author Topic: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test  (Read 21216 times)

Stretch

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Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« on: November 05, 2013, 10:01:37 PM »
We found out today about changes coming to our health plan for 2014, and the biggest thing is a "wellness plan" that tries to determine if you are a walking casualty.

The second part of the wellness plan is a blood test. If you don't comply, paycheck deductions for health coverage will go up...for me it will be about $1k more a year. If you do comply there is no benefit (well I guess the benefit is you don't have higher premiums).

I have privacy concerns, and I have an EXTREME phobia of needles! I get woozy just thinking about them. On the flip side I would like to keep the extra $1k.

Is this pretty common? Has anyone here submitted to such a test? What should I do?

Khan

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2013, 10:16:01 PM »
Yes, Intel(where I work) has a Health for Life program where you get annual checkups done, and if you're unhealthy(overweight, blood test results, whatever) you talk with a wellness coach about it. It's a 250$ discount to your health insurance premiums, and health stuff has a metric ****load of regulations to be opaque to the employer. Personally, I like that there's an incentive to get my blood drawn and tested. I like that I was able to go over the results from this year and the last(and I'm kind've saddened, I've put on ~16 lbs and gotten a bit unhealthier, good to know exactly at least).

You could talk to HR, talk to a medical representative or what have you to learn the privacy end of the spectrum.

As for the fear of needles... you should try to overcome that if at all possible. A quick google search came up with a lot of suggestions. I dunno, needles are just one of the wonderful things about modern life. Vaccinations, blood draws, transfusions... They're a necessary and minor evil.

jarcher777

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 10:16:29 PM »
My employer has had a "Wellness" program ever since I've been there.  This is how ours is structured.  You get your blood tests done with a slew of other things such as weight and blood pressure.  If you are within normal levels you get about a 54 dollar premium deduction per paycheck.  If we aren't within normal levels we can still get the credit by doing "health coaching".  This is where you basically talk to a health coach on the phone every other week and they advise you of things you can do to help whatever was out of the norm.  I've never had any privacy issues and I have found the blood results useful for giving to my normal doc.

cats

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2013, 10:23:35 PM »
My employer has introduced something similar.  If you submit to a "health screening" you get credits that essentially cut your deductible in half.  For us the things they check are weight, body fat, blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and whether or not you smoke.  So there is a needle involved.  The testing is done by an external company and they swear up and down that my employer only gets aggregate, not individual, information (i.e., "20% of your employees have a BMI of 30" or something to that effect, not "that guy in cube 8 has 40% body fat!"  I also work for a fairly large company so I feel pretty confident that there truly can be aggregated results (as opposed to a smaller company where it might be more "obvious" who the more expensive/risky employees were).  Also, I'm in pretty excellent health by any of the metrics they're monitoring, so I really don't care whether or not my employer knows about my insanely low cholesterol numbers.  I might feel differently if that weren't the case.

My company does also offer or sponsor a lot of wellness programs (there is a little fitness center with classes on site, you can get a free consultation with a dietician over the phone, there's a weight watchers at work group, etc.) and they claim they'll use the aggregate information as part of deciding what other wellness offerings to add.  I'm guessing they may also use it to decide what kind of things might be more or less costly to include in the insurance we're offered, but frankly, I think they can figure that out without the data.  I think they are also hoping that getting the information will motivate some employees to make lifestyle changes and ultimately cost them less in premiums.

chasesfish

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2013, 03:52:42 AM »
Yes, we have it too.

I hate needles, but the lab people seem to be quick.

Another motivation to say adios to work one day

krenwren

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2013, 05:21:30 AM »
We had to get our BP checked, and a fingerstick to measure glucose and cholesterol. That plus an intrusive "health risk assessment" and selection of an in network primary care provider got me a $600 a year savings on my health plan.  It's annoying but not so annoying I didn't do it.  The health risk assessment was a doozy, even though I thought I was in good health, apparently I have a 56% chance of dropping dead of a chronic health condition.  Oh well, I guess I could lose a few pounds (where's my bike) and stop drinking so much. RATS

matchewed

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2013, 05:38:33 AM »
Sucks but the cost reductions are worth it. Had to go through the same thing, I don't have the fear of needles though.

footenote

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2013, 06:02:50 AM »
Here's another benefit to having the test: what if it reveals you have a serious, silent but treatable health condition? Wouldn't that be worth a lot?

On your fear of needles, I feel for you. If you do decide to have the test, tell the phlebotomist who draws your blood of your phobia. Trust me, he or she has dealt with hundreds of people like you and can coach you through it.

Finally: the people who take blood all day are much smoother at it than RNs. You may be pleasantly surprised at how trauma-free the experience is.

randymarsh

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2013, 06:04:27 AM »
I'm not on my employer's insurance, but they do this testing and wellness stuff too. The blood test is just a finger prick - same thing as when a diabetic tests their sugar.

dcheesi

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2013, 06:11:34 AM »
They're slowly moving us toward that. For the past couple of years it was just a questionnaire for ~$25 off each period; this time, it's $21 off for that and another $4 for doing an actual test. I'm sure next year the blood test will be worth more, and the questionnaire less....

I already have regular tests through my doctor, so that part doesn't bug me. It's the extra paperwork and the privacy issues that concern me. Plus if they start varying the discounts based your results I will be highly annoyed (esp. now that that crap isn't allowed on individual plans).

I blew off the test this year, but if the discount goes up I'll have to pay more attention to it.

KMMK

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2013, 06:19:08 AM »
It can be a good thing. My brother had a routine pre-employment blood screening and it revealed a serious disorder that could have killed him. Him being a seemingly healthy young person at the time, it's doubtful the problem would have been caught any other way.

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2013, 07:52:00 AM »
My employer simply has a health questionnaire that we have to fill out every year to get a $400 contribution to our HSA. The questionnaire has all sorts of questions that can only be answered if you have a blood test, but the employer does not actually offer a blood test. I had to get one for term life insurance last year, so I already had all of the data.

Eric

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2013, 10:33:37 AM »
There's no fucking way that I would give a blood sample to my employer or their representative.  I'd look for a new job before I did something like that.  I'd view that as way over the line and a huge intrusion on my privacy.

ace1224

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2013, 10:59:19 AM »
i just had mine today.  i don't have a problem with it.  free lipid panel? thank you very much. and it saves me the hassle of having to sit in a dr's office.
ours is a finger prick. and it saves 850 a year on your insurance.  not required but i like it.  theres even this cool little online thing that keeps track of all your previous years and lets you know what kind of trend you're on

matchewed

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2013, 11:52:48 AM »
There's no fucking way that I would give a blood sample to my employer or their representative.  I'd look for a new job before I did something like that.  I'd view that as way over the line and a huge intrusion on my privacy.

Um this wouldn't be a blood sample taken by your employer or their representative but by the health insurance company or their representative.

Koala0924

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2013, 06:32:42 PM »
DH and I had to go thru a wellness screening this year (height, weight, measurements, blood work, blood pressure, etc). We also had questionnaires to complete.

I absolutely hate having my blood drawn. I have small veins, they "roll", and I have a slight phobia of needles (despite working in the health field). I simply ask the tech to use a butterfly needle, then I sit back and close my eyes and focus on my breathing. The butterfly needle is the trick.

Norrie

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2013, 07:45:39 PM »
I just had an optional wellness check at work last week. There was not a blood draw via needle, but a finger stick for fasting glucose, cholesterol levels, liver enzymes, etc.

There is no financial incentive for having this done, I just wanted to get my business checked out for free. Turns out that I have extremely elevated liver enzymes that I'll need to follow up on (don't drink, don't have any risk factors, is a total mystery to the nurse practitioner that I met with).

For the blood draw, you could let them know about your anxiety and ask if they have butterfly needles. Don't watch them do it, and take some slow, deep breaths before they start. If you've got some time before the check up, you could work on desensitization exercises (Google 'needle desensitization'). Systematic desensitization is something that you can do for yourself, by yourself; no psychiatrist necessary. Good luck!


oldtoyota

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2013, 08:52:56 PM »

Another motivation to say adios to work one day

Yes. America is moving to less privacy and more invasive health screenings. I am also motivated to exit asap.

My employer's health insurance had a wellness test we had to take. We got no money off for taking it. Our only incentive was that we'd not be allowed to sign up for the PPO if we did not take their test/quiz. And, we just input the data ourselves, so I could theoretically say my BP is whatever I want to say it is. Not sure of the point.


Paul der Krake

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2013, 09:13:22 PM »
I wouldn't mind. Might as well give them accurate data, rather than have them try and guess based off sparse records.

bogart

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2013, 09:21:08 PM »
Um this wouldn't be a blood sample taken by your employer or their representative but by the health insurance company or their representative.

Might depend on the employer (and whether or not the employer self-insures).  Every health insurance plan my employer offers except the one with the most expensive premiums limits the beneficiaries to in-network care, where in-network = my employer (a university with an affiliated teaching hospital and medical center/network).  Perhaps unsurprisingly given how I've framed that, I pay for the most expensive policy and seek my medical care (mostly) elsewhere.  I know from co-workers who use the network system that to get care one commits to paying (co-pays, etc.) through payroll deduction, if one can't pay up front.  Too company store for my taste.

Villanelle

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #20 on: November 07, 2013, 01:46:52 AM »
There's no fucking way that I would give a blood sample to my employer or their representative.  I'd look for a new job before I did something like that.  I'd view that as way over the line and a huge intrusion on my privacy.

And this is why you don't have to.   You'll get a discount if you do, but it's a choice.

(Maybe this is just semantics, but I believe it is usually a discount for participation, rather than a penalty for lack of participation.)

matchewed

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2013, 04:45:23 AM »
Um this wouldn't be a blood sample taken by your employer or their representative but by the health insurance company or their representative.

Might depend on the employer (and whether or not the employer self-insures).  Every health insurance plan my employer offers except the one with the most expensive premiums limits the beneficiaries to in-network care, where in-network = my employer (a university with an affiliated teaching hospital and medical center/network).  Perhaps unsurprisingly given how I've framed that, I pay for the most expensive policy and seek my medical care (mostly) elsewhere.  I know from co-workers who use the network system that to get care one commits to paying (co-pays, etc.) through payroll deduction, if one can't pay up front.  Too company store for my taste.

Fair enough I'll rephrase it that an extremely small percentage of people will have to have blood samples taken by their employer. Furthermore these people will have intimate knowledge of whether their employer has good privacy practices and will be in a better position to determine if privacy truly is an issue in this manner.

Stretch

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2014, 11:28:37 PM »
I wanted to follow up with this, just had the test at work, will save some money with the discounted premiums (err...same price premiums). It really was not that bad, I am still afraid of needles but having a cavity drilled out and an ingrown toe nail cut out helped prepare me for this!

I heard it is quite common now, and it will probably be standard in a few years.

Milspecstache

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Re: Employer health insurance wellness program requires blood test
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2014, 11:45:44 PM »
Instead of my employer's life insurance (which subsidizes smokers) I went with a different company.  They give me more for cheaper but required a health exam which included a blood test.  I did it 6 or 7 years ago and have been saving money ever since.