Clarian to eliminate fat people

Dateline: Tue 19 Jun 2007

The almighty Clarian health care corporation is going after its fat, supposedly unhealthy employees. That means if you're a chubette working at Methodist, Riley or in the Indiana University medical complex, you are gonna pay.

Well, what is a hospital to do? Money, money, money, money. After all, Clarian already has physicians under contract; they have to bring in a certain number of new patients each year, or they're out.

So why not squeeze some extra bucks out of its entire employee base?

Here's the history: Clarian introduced its Health Risk Assessment plan last year -- it encouraged all employees to participate in order to get breaks on benefits. Basically Clarian asked if you smoked (people lied, naturally); then it asked you to take its HRA quiz. If you admitted to your nicotine addiction, you paid an extra $5 on your crummy deductible; the HRA was also used to either provide a break or lay on extra fees.

For 2009, Clarian is going all out, in a way that some lawyers might construe as trampling on people's right to privacy. If HIPPA makes health care confidential, how can Clarian get in its workers' faces? And I'm sure they are not the only ones...

They're REQUIRING employees be screened for blood sugar, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and BMI (body mass index).

According to the official Clarian newsletter, employees in 2009:

"Must complete an HRA to enroll or re-enroll

"Must be screened for blood sugar, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and BMI health risks.

"Unhealthy measurements found in the above screens will result in additional health risk premium charges.

"Tobacco users pay more per paycheck for health coverage."

And how can this possibly work? One employee reports taking the HRA last fall and being assessed as at risk "with an unhealthy lifestyle."

The problem? This person was deemed underweight and was told a minimum weight of 220 lbs. was necessary.

A computer error, obviously. But when the worker called to correct the mistake, the word was that the program was shut down and nothing could be altered. The result? The employee was labeled with an unhealthy lifestyle.

It is cliche to point out that smokers were the first target of the health police; we all knew fat people were next. But this across-the-board approach to health care is senseless and doomed to create a mess of problems, as well as an invasive data base that may well be illegal; some people who are "fat" are also healthy. The BMI -- body/mass index -- is not necessarily a fair or accurate reading.

The bottom line is that this is about money. Perhaps it would be admirable if it was about health, if there was some mention in this announcement of a fitness plan, healthy food being provided in the cafeterias, etc. But it's not; it's about invading a worker's private health status and assessing a penalty if that worker does not meet Clarian's arbitrary standards.

No wonder the health care system is such a train wreck.

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