Archived Story

Minn. health incentives raise privacy concerns

Published 8:52am Friday, November 23, 2012

ST. PAUL — More Minnesota workers are considering financial incentives to participate in wellness programs that monitor their health, but that could come at the sacrifice of some privacy.

It’s not uncommon for an employer to offer basic incentives, such as a discount for gym membership. But some organizations have begun taking further steps, asking for more specific information that leaves some participants a little uncomfortable.

For example, the University of Minnesota is offering at least a $300 discount on health insurance premiums next year. However, to qualify employees have to participate in activities such as a health-risk questionnaire, health coaching and a biometric screening to measure blood pressure and cholesterol.

More than 5,700 employees are participating, including Amy Smith, an administrative assistant for the University of Minnesota Press

She said she was excited about the opportunity to save money and also have structure for her weight-loss efforts, but having to answer detailed questions and undergo health screening could feel “a little creepy.”