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My Personal Experience with a Wellness Screening

Posted by Barbara J. Zabawa | Sep 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

After numerous speaking engagements about the legal aspects of health risk assessments and biometric screenings, I finally had a chance to participate in one myself today.  When I registered for the screening, I was told that I should have seen a privacy notice, as required by the EEOC, and I may have, but I don't remember it.  I was looking for it, however, at today's screening, but it was no where to be found.  When I asked for it, I was told to go online and look at it, which I did.  Luckily, it is available at all times on the vendor's website for review.  My results will be uploaded to the vendor's portal, and according to the privacy policy, my health information will not be shared with others (including my employer), except that some vendors may need the information for program administration purposes.

That is all fine, but I wish the privacy statement included specific language about what, if anything, is done with my de-identified information.  The statement is vague on that point, which makes me question if de-identified information is shared.  If it is not, then the vendor would be well served to include a statement in its privacy policy clearly stating that fact.  If de-identified information is shared, then I would like to know when and how, and have an opportunity to opt-out of such sharing.

I also wish the privacy statement had been available at the screening so that I could have asked these questions.  I guess any employee concerns about privacy are not important enough to address screening day - those concerns should be addressed before you go.  Perhaps that is a legitimate argument, but, I think if a company takes seriously employee privacy concerns, then having someone on site during a health screening day to answer questions would demonstrate a stronger commitment to privacy.  

One other item of concern was the fact that I had no idea about the qualifications of the very nice lady who pricked my finger and took my measurements.  She wore a white coat, but offered no disclosure, in writing or verbally, of her name, company or qualifications.  I noticed a laboratory registration issued by CMS on the registration counter, but no other information about the people actually conducting the screening.  That was disappointing.  A simple brochure at the registration table explaining who was conducting the screening and the types of employees (whether RNs, LPNs, or some other licensed professional) performing the measurements could suffice.  

In sum, it is helpful to know my numbers, and the $150 incentive motivated me to sign up for the screening.  But, I am already doing what I can to lead a healthy life.  I watch what I eat most of the time, exercise as much as I can, get enough sleep, and avoid other unhealthy behaviors.  Knowing my numbers will not result in significant changes in my behavior.  But, I do have this nervous feeling about where my numbers will end up, and unfortunately, the vendors for this wellness screening did not do everything possible to allay those fears at the outset.

About the Author

Barbara J. Zabawa

Attorney Barbara J. Zabawa started the Center for Health & Wellness Law, LLC after she recognized a need for legal services that shared a mission with providers to improve patient outcomes and population health, encourage wellness, protect patient interests in choice of provider and treatment options, provide holistic care, and expand information access. Attorney Zabawa has 20+ years of experience in the health care field, first receiving her Master's in Public Health from the University of Michigan before attending law school at UW Madison, where she graduated with honors in 2001. From 2003-2005, Ms. Zabawa clerked for the Honorable Barbara B. Crabb in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin and worked on a variety of matters, including employment, patent infringement, civil rights, and contract matters. She also served as a Skadden Fellow representing health care consumers on both the national and local level by helping consumers navigate private insurance coverage issues and advocating for their interests as a Funded Consumer Advocate at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Attorney Zabawa has worked for a large health insurance company providing advice on the Affordable Care Act as well as HIPAA Privacy and Security compliance. In addition, she was in private practice at a large regional law firm for seven years, where she was a shareholder, led her firm's health care team and served as its HIPAA Privacy Officer. While in private practice, she handled a variety of health law matters, such as compliance with fraud and abuse laws, professional scope of practice matters, state licensing issues, HIPAA privacy and security compliance, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and conditions of participation compliance, Accountable Care Organization and other joint venture agreements, employment agreements, as well as business litigation. Attorney Zabawa is the author of the forthcoming book "Rule the Rules of Workplace Wellness Programs." She is a frequent speaker and writer both nationally and regionally on workplace wellness program compliance, the Affordable Care Act, fraud and abuse issues and HIPAA compliance. She has published several law review articles in the practice of health law and has been interviewed by TV, radio and print media regarding wellness, health reform, and HIPAA. She is a Board Member for Rogers Memorial Hospital Foundation, Board President for the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, Board Member for Health Promotion Advocates, and currently serves on the Oversight Advisory Council for the Wisconsin Partnership Program and the State Bar Health Law Section Board. Education JD - University of Wisconsin Law School, cum laudeMPH - University of Michigan School of Public HealthBA - Lawrence University Admitted to Practice: • New York• Wisconsin• Federal District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin• Federal District Court of the Eastern District of Wisconsin• Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit• United States Supreme Court

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