By: Krystle Crossman
It seems like there is less privacy when it comes to our bodies and our medical care these days. Politicians are telling women what they can and cannot do, activists are trying to tell us that our methods of healing are wrong, and insurance companies want more information than ever before when covering certain conditions. Now some employers are taking things one step further and gaining access to their employees’ health insurance records on a regular basis. One of the things that these employers are looking for is your birth control habits.
A firm called Castlight Healthcare takes medical insurance claim data and matches it with information that is entered or searched for in their app. They then alert the employees and employers of choices that the employee is making that may not be so healthy. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they will also tell your boss that you may have an impending pregnancy. When a woman stops filling a prescription for birth control and begins searching for fertility topics in the Castlight app, an alert is sent to their employer to let them know that there may be a pregnancy in the near future for this employee. The damage that this information can cause is alarming. The employer could decide to demote the employee to a job that will not include maternity leave benefits. They could potentially let the employee go.
There are many laws that do not allow employers to have access to their employees’ medical health records. However, some are finding a way around this with companies like Castlight. They will bring in a third party company and let them collect all of the data. The employee can opt out of alerts and health tips from this third party company which then only gives their employer a list of how many people are at risk for certain conditions without any names attached to the report. This could still potentially be a huge violation of privacy as symptoms for certain illnesses may be more apparently once the employer knows that there are employees at risk of having it.
There are certain lines that an employer should not cross and this seems to be one of those lines. There are many people appalled by this initiative, and rightly so. This gives the employer quite a bit of power over the employee. What would you feel if your employer were to start receiving messages about your health and when you stop taking birth control?