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If your employer thinks you're fat here's what it could cost you

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






To cut insurance costs, some companies are monitoring their employees' weight

In the name of cutting health care costs, many companies have instituted wellness programs that offer workers stuff like healthy cooking classes and incentives to exercise. And they're universally popular with employees.

But some companies, like Lafarge U.S., have taken the idea of encouraging workers to be healthier a step further. The construction materials supplier provides voluntary health screening and individualized health and wellness coaching to its employees, which is nice. However, these screenings include things like measuring an employee's waist, checking their BMI, their glucose levels, cholesterol and more.

Sure, employees who participated received a $75 gift card, but those who were evaluated to be below a certain level of health and fitness were directed to the individualized coaching, which required them to report everything they ate and exactly how much they exercised. And if employees said "thanks, but no thanks," their choice of health plan enrollment options was limited to a plan that carried a crazy $2,750 deductible. That's practically a $3,000 tax for not letting their employer all up in their health business.

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when employees could have the expectation of a little privacy when they're off the clock, but it appears this kind of weight policing is legal, with the exception of folks who can get a doctor's note to opt out of programs without penalty.

So how did Lafarge employees react? Although nearly 97 percent of employees got screened, only 13 percent took up the health care coaching.

If Lafarge was the only company doing this, that would be one thing, but more and more companies are adopting controversial health screening practices. According to this video, the shift could be at least partly due to the 40 percent tax associated with the Affordable Care Act that will go into effect in 2018.

So, what's your take? Are companies going too far by asking their employees to share such personal information about their eating habits and exercise routines? Do they have the right to penalize you if you don't let them measure your waist, or answer intrusive questions about your private life? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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