Health Care Reform, Wellness Programs and the Erosion of Informed Consent
48 Pages Posted: 31 May 2013 Last revised: 14 Jun 2014
Date Written: May 30, 2013
Should employers be permitted to condition employees’ access to affordable health insurance on their willingness to undergo specific medical interventions? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 seeks to reduce health care costs by promoting employer-sponsored “wellness programs” designed to motivate employees to improve their health. The Act allows employers to impose substantial penalties, in the form of increased insurance contributions, on employees who fail to meet specific health targets or adopt prescribed behaviors – including taking the medications recommended by their doctors. This approach to improving health conflicts with ethical requirements that patients must voluntarily consent to any course of treatment, and thereby threatens patients’ privacy, health, and autonomy. Accordingly, the provisions in the ACA designed to protect sick employees against discrimination should be expanded to protect patients’ voluntary consent to treatment as well.
Keywords: Health Care, Affordable Care Act, Wellness, Employment, Discrimination, Informed Consent
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