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Overweight employees could be fined for poor health

Health care costs have always and will always be a primary concern for employers. According to analysts, the 2013 average health care cost for one employee will sit around $11,000 -- and it shows no signs of declining. Considering the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (which will come into full effect soon, and has already impacted the health care industry), employers are changing their health care policies to align (and, in some cases, take advantage of) the new rules.

One of these rules revolves around the overall health of an employee, and levying a penalty on those who do not meet certain biometric criteria. Some employers have already started fining such employees, who are deemed overweight and thus do not fall in line with certain requirements for their health care plan. They still have insurance; but they have to pay extra because of it.

Does this make sense? It certainly seems like a discriminatory policy that punishes someone based on one factor. Many officials with knowledge of obesity and this employment law issue seem to indicate it is just a cash-grab by employers and insurers -- that the law does not encourage employees to actually get healthier.

Just because this is a current policy at some companies now (and appears to be a trend that will become very popular -- if not a requirement -- in the near future) does not mean it is immune to a legal challenge. More so, though, this serves as a reminder to remember your rights as an employee; and to consult legal help if you believe your rights are being infringed upon.

Source: CNN, "Coming to a workplace near you: Fines for being fat?," Katherine Reynolds Lewis, April 15, 2013

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