Pennsylvania State University will require its employees to submit to invasive physical tests or pay a fine, health officials announced recently.
Employees and their spouses must take an online test and answer questions about their personal health habits. They must also turn themselves in for a full battery of biometric testing that will include waist circumference measurements. The penalty for noncompliance is a monthly $100 fee.
Faculty did not take kindly to the new health care policy, which was announced in the middle of the summer with little input from employees.
“I resent that my employer requires that I submit to medical exams, essentially,” said Matthew Woessner, a political science professor at PSU, in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. “There’s a fine line between encouraging employees to be healthy and requiring them to comply with health screenings.”
Mark Pauly, a professor of health care management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said PSU’s policy was uniquely authoritarian.
“It is a mystery to me why Penn State would start irritating their workers,” he said in a statement.
While incentives for employees’ to improve their personal well-being are becoming increasingly popular amidst rising healthcare costs, policies that reward good behavior are more successful than ones that punish bad behavior, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Ironically, the Affordable Care Act – -which most university professors overwhelmingly supported — encourages employers to enforce healthier workplace environments by increasing coverage when such policies are implemented.
University officials assured faculty members who were critical of the policy that their information would be kept private.
“The personal health information that you provide to WebMD is available only to you and those you authorize,” according to a web page for the policy.
University employees who are members of the Teamsters Union are specifically exempt from the policy, due to the union’s current contract with PSU.
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