Some people who work at one of the country’s most famous institutions of higher learning are not happy with their new wellness program. Some are going as far as to say it’s Penn State’s next scandal.
As part of the university’s new wellness program, the school’s 40-thousand employees have been told they must answer an online questionnaire, or have 100 dollars held from their paychecks each month. “The most troubling part of the survey is when it gets into personal information,” says Matthew Woessner, Penn State Associate Professor.Woessner says the survey, which asks about height and weight, goes too far when it asks about personal ailments, feelings of depression, and use of tobacco. One question reads: “Have you had five or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting in the last six months?” Men are asked: “Do you do a monthly testicular self exam?”
The school says all the information is confidential. Critics worry though, about hacking and other forms of disclosure. Professor Woessner says his solution is civil disobedience. “My suggestion is that Penn State employees dutifully fill out their profiles and it in with junk. So for example in my profile I am 3 feet 8 inches tall and weigh 50 pounds,” he says.
Al Lewis, the author of “Cracking Health Costs” had this to say, “My suggestion is that Penn State employees dutifully fill out their profiles and it in with junk. So for example in my profile I am 3 feet 8 inches tall and weigh 50 pounds.”
The school, which declined an interview, says the questionnaire is part of a broader wellness program, including a physical exam. The purpose is to lower the cost of employee health care. But some health care experts argue what Penn State is doing often costs more money than it saves.
Lewis says, “This is not Penn state doing this to their employees for their own good, this is Penn State doing this to their employees for their own bad, because in fact if employees do what Penn State wants them to do and go out and get all this medical care, screens and testing, their costs will skyrocket.”
Lewis adds, programs like the one at Penn State cost about 300 dollars per employee a year to administer. A recent study shows that after four years, the annual savings on health care costs per employee is about 130 dollars.