Wearing an activity tracker gives insurance companies the data they need to discriminate against people like you

What about your current government gives you the impression that they are operating in the best interests of individuals?

You are quite knowledgeable about the legalities of insurances. Throw in a callout to ‘fake news’, the predictable ‘disappointed’ expression and you look a lot like a paid shill. I hope that isn’t the case.


Also illegal in most of Europe

Welcome to the club!


Ha! I am actually a liberal - plus, paid by whom? Yes, I understand U.S. insurance and actually help companies and their employees navigate the complex/backwards system.

I also do feel the need to point out a link to an opinion piece as fact when in case it is not, and can potentially spread fear in an already fearful time.

I am not sure why people feel the need to lash out at commenters in such cases. Again, I am just trying to calm people down about issues with which you need not be concerned - at least for now!


My wife’s practice is soon to be owned by a giant hospital company, and they give their employees cash for meeting fitness goals, verified by fitbit. I have not seen the contract yet, but I will see if it is susceptible to this sort of abuse.

Youv’e been Zucked. I think we need to do something about this “Private Company Data collection” BS. Any ideas?

why would you want to steer healthy people to cheaper plans?


The falsehood here is modelling societies as being “an individual” versus “everybody else”. As if this has ever been a one-way process. Taking responsibility for it requires awareness of both how society shapes the individual - as well as how the individual shapes society. This means that you can not only opt out, but also opt in to diverse ways of living, and that this is not a solitary process.

Merely expecting privacy or control would be naive in any case, but you can still demand these and use force to bring it about. What would be the incentive for cynicism and despair? And why would “society” respect you for your acquiescence?

1 Like

I think you’re overstating the privacy protections afforded to people’s health care data. While there are some protections when it come to health care providers, there are scant protections when it comes to the employers themselves, who may very well be making health care decisions on behalf of their employees in terms of the kind of coverage they offer. Even more dangerous is the lack of protections against discrimination based on "unprotected’ behaviors such as physical activity, diet, or other activities outside of work, or even likelihood of developing a disability (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, pregnancy).

It’s also worth pointing out that while HIPAA prohibits discrimination or increased fees based on health status, when a company creates a discount program for people who are willing to part with their data, exercise and make changes to their health, they’re essentially creating a negative discrimination system, where those who don’t do those things pay more, both immediately because they don’t get a discount, and in the future because health care costs are shifted from those who track to those who don’t.

I think there’s legitimate concern over the use of fitness trackers and collection of personal data by employers, and that there are insufficient protections for employees. I don’t think it’s paranoid to be wary of how these devices and data are being used, especially in light of cases like Burwell vs Hobby Lobby, and the potential roll-back of consumer protections in the ACA and other legislation.


That hit really close to home!

But I don’t share my info with insurance companies, for all the reasons stated.


Same goes for using loyalty cards at supermarkets. You’re getting bribed with your own money to give them info so they can make more money off you.


Ding, ding, ding. That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Why would a for-profit company want to do that?

That’s when you know it’s time to look for the real reason they’re being so magnanimous.


This is absolutely true. The value of a fitness tracker is one thing, but what one’s eating is another. 15,000 steps and junk food isn’t the same as 5,000 steps and veggies and quinoa.

1 Like

Or it’s a loss leader to get you in the door so they can sell you other stuff, or it’s a free sample they hope you like enough to buy more of.

Doubt that’s the case here though.

@waetherman, you can be parinoid all you like! However, the Burrell case you cite is in regards to Holly Lobby not wanting to pay for birth control. How does that relate to activity tracking?

Again, employers do not receive the individually identifiable data, so no one has any risk of employer action. The EEOC and ADA provide plenty of protection, and an employer will only receive rolled-up data on activity.

It’s not paranoia if they’re actually out to get you.

The Hobby Lobby case is important because it sets a precedent for employers determining what health care coverage their employees receive, based on a fig leaf of religious belief. The same could be used for any number of behaviors. And while the EEOC does enforce anti-discrimination, it does so only for so-called protected classes. There are all kinds of behaviors, including fitness, that are not protected by the EEOC. And HIPAA doesn’t prevent employers from collecting health information, and making decisions individually or in aggregate. If you think your privacy is protected, it’s not. And it’s about to get a lot worse once the republicans have their way with the EEOC, ACA, BCP and every other agency tasked with protecting your data.


That’s not how it worked when a previous company that I worked at did it. To participate, you joined a company group on the tracker’s website, and you could all see each other’s stats, compare yourselves to other people in your department and other departments, etc. There was some sort of team challenge aspect to make the competitive types happy. I wasn’t too paranoid about the fact that anyone could see how many flights of stairs I climbed on March 7, or how many steps I took that day. But the employer definitely had access to all the data.

It was a company that started you with ridiculously expensive insurance, and gave you discounts for participating in on-site screenings and those fitness challenges, etc. To get the insurance rates down to a reasonable level, you had to do all that stuff, and they got all your data. I don’t know what they did with it, but it was almost certainly a bad deal for the employees. In retrospect, worth being paranoid about.


That was an optional fitness challenge meant to motivate you through competition - not punish you. You noted the insurance was expensive, and that is probably because everyone was out of shape and costly to the program. Hence the incentives to get moving.

Look, it seems like you all want to be parinoid - go for it! I worked as a benefits manager for over 13 years, and I know that employers don’t retain this data or punish you for it. Believe what you want to believe, as always - avoid the facts where possible… Sheesh!

At most you know that the employer you worked for didn’t retain the data or punish employees for it. But there is nothing to stop employers from doing just that, and there have been several cases recently of that happening. You can continue with your head in the sand, and believe what you want to believe, and ignore the facts… Sheesh!

1 Like