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SXSW 2017

Wellness or Else: Privacy in Workplace Wellness

150 million Americans get health insurance from their jobs and many companies now have employee wellness programs (EWP). These programs often require employees to fill out health assessments and/or undergo genetic screening. Some use apps or devices to track what food employees buy or eat - all of this is done to save money by identifying employees with health "risks." Saying no to participating can mean paying hundreds of dollars more for health insurance. When an EWP is administered through a 3rd party vendor, no health privacy laws applies, even they collect and share sensitive health information from employees. How are these programs designed and do they work? What are the privacy risks?

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  1. What are the privacy and security implications of the data being collected, shared, and used in wellness programs?
  2. Are employee wellness programs making health disparities worse by asking less resourced employees to subsidize more resourced colleagues?
  3. Do EWPs even work? If not, why not?


Michelle De Mooy, Acting Dir Privacy & Data Project, Center for Democracy & Technology

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