The federal government now mandates employer-sponsored health insurance pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, one of the underlying debates here is whether employers may argue the propriety of health and wellness standards for their employees on the basis of lower health insurance costs. Consider and comment on the following questions:
- If employers can demonstrate objective correlations between tobacco habits, health markers (such as mortality levels, cancer rates, etc.), and insurance costs, should they be permitted to mandate tobacco-free workplaces (that is to say, workplaces that prohibit employees from using tobacco products at all…even on breaks or outside of work), and to require employees to undergo pre-hire tobacco screenings and random periodic testing as a condition of employment? What are the legal concerns here?
- If employers can demonstrate objective correlations between other health markers (such as cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI, etc.) and insurance costs, should they be permitted to create policies that require new employees to undergo physical assessments and meet certain standards as a condition of employment. Could this be done short of requiring a “medical examination”?
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