Medical privacy concerns spur AARP to sue US over wellness programs: 5 things to know

The AARP has filed a lawsuit against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, challenging the federal agency's rules for wellness programs, according to The New York Times.

Here are five things to know about the lawsuit.

1. The lawsuit represents the the first major legal challenge of new rules the EEOC issued on the programs in May. At that time, the agency said employers could offer incentives of up to 30 percent of the annual cost of a worker's health insurance coverage, according to the report.

2. At the crux of the conflict is whether some programs requiring an employee to fill out a health risk assessment or undergo biometric testing for conditions like high blood pressure are forcing workers to hand over private medical or genetic information.

3. In the lawsuit, AARP alleges the wellness programs violate anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting workers' medical information, according to the report. AARP also questions whether the programs are truly voluntary when the price of not participating can be high, the report states.

4. Critics claim some wellness programs have violated anti-discrimination provisions under other laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the report. However, the report states, employers have typically set the incentives they offer at lower amounts than the rules will allow, and companies generally gather medical information through third parties as a way to protect employee privacy.

5. The AARP wants a preliminary injunction to stop the new rules, which take effect in 2017.


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