Monday, September 17, 2007

The End of Privacy As We Known It

You receive a pink slip and a positive HIV test result on the same day? Coincidence, or does your doctor also work for your employer?

The Washington Times reports:
Corporations struggling to stem the rising tide of health care costs are providing on-site medical services that used to be found only in doctors' offices and hospitals.

The National Business Group on Health recently released a survey on the prevalence of on-site clinics among U.S. employers with more than 1,000 employees. Of those surveyed, 23 percent reported offering on-site medical services in 2007, while 29 percent plan to offer a program next year.

"These clinics are also an opportunity to provide services in a more cost-effective way," said Helen Darling, president of the Washington lobbying group. "They will have limited services, and the patient won't get a lot of extra costly services, which the employer would have had to pay for."
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that the premiums businesses pay for their workers' health care have increased 78 percent since 2001. But creating a medical facility is not exactly a cheap solution to the problem, so the trend is predominantly found among large employers.

Automakers and other manufacturers have been incorporating on-site health care into their business plans for years. Mishaps are a fact of life in manufacturing, where nurses are needed to treat occupational injuries.

But over the past several years, white-collar employers, including technology and pharmaceutical companies, are discovering that it is cost-effective to offer a clinic with a family physician who provides care to employees and their families.

World Health Management of Cleveland has offered on-site health care services to employers for more than 20 years. Jim Hummer, founder of the company, said he witnessed an evolution in employers' thinking on health care during that time.

"All of a sudden, it's in vogue to get involved in workers' health care issues," he said. "Health care costs have gone out of sight, so the employers are realizing they must change. For the first time, there is an alignment of interest between the workers and employers on preventing illnesses."

Isn't it funny how the Washington Times ignored patients' medical privacy issues in this article and the downside of having your doctor working for your employer and not for you? How can anyone not believe that with an arrangement such as this one, management won't be reviewing employees' health records before handing out promotions?

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