Fat workers beware!

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By Tim Redmond

And smokers, and people who don't go to the gym enough and people who like a couple of donuts in the morning ... One thing I did not know about the health care bill that just passed is that it allows employers to set health standards -- including cholesterol levels and body-mass index -- for workers, and stick the ones who don't meet the standards with higher insurance premiums.

That's according to Democracy Now's show this morning.:

JUAN GONZALEZ: One of the—in terms of how the bill would affect the majority of the population, one of the things that you’ve written about that, I haven’t seen anywhere else, is this whole issue of how premiums will be affected by wellness programs and how insurance companies will use that to penalize certain employees. Could you talk about that?

TRUDY LIEBERMAN: Yeah, that can happen. What’s written into the bill are incentives to encourage better health behavior, better cholesterol levels, lower body mass index, and so forth. So what’s going to happen is an employer can set certain targets, that you have to have a BMI, say, below twenty-six or twenty-five, whatever they decide, cholesterol will be lower than—

AMY GOODMAN: BMI being body mass index?

TRUDY LIEBERMAN: Body mass index—cholesterol levels below x amount. And employees will have to check in, weigh in every year, so to speak, and those that don’t meet the targets very well may be penalized, in terms of the price of insurance. We see employers also—

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the individual employer would set this?

TRUDY LIEBERMAN: Exactly.

Jesus. That's a scary thought. Especially since high cholesterol is in part genetic. And body mass index is not always an accurate gauge of a person's health (there are some very health people who are just heavier than the rest of the population).

So now your boss can also be the health police. Yikes.