September 22, 2013

SORRY GUYS, BUT SANDUSKY U. ISN’T THE FIRST PLACE I’D TRUST WITH MY PERSONAL INFORMATION: Health Plan Penalty Ends at Penn State.

After weeks of vociferous objections by faculty members, Pennsylvania State University said on Wednesday it was suspending part of a new employee wellness program that some professors had criticized as coercive and financially punitive.

In particular, the university said it was suspending a $100 monthly noncompliance fee that was to be levied on employees who declined to fill out an online questionnaire. The form, administered by WebMD Health Services, a health management company, asked employees for intimate details about their jobs, marital situation and finances. It also asked female employees whether they planned to become pregnant over the next year.

Last week, in an emotionally charged faculty senate meeting held on the main campus, several female professors told administrators that requiring women to answer such questions — or pay a fine — amounted to an invasion of their privacy.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rodney A. Erickson, the president of Penn State, said that the university had heeded faculty concerns about the perceived invasiveness of the questionnaire and the punitive nature of the fine. “We have decided to suspend the $100-per-month surcharge so that people who are uncomfortable with any aspect of the survey will not feel as if they are being penalized,” Mr. Erickson said in the statement.

Many employers use financial incentives to encourage employees to participate in workplace wellness programs, a trend that is likely to widen with the new health care law.

Prediction: These “wellness programs” will turn out to be complete wastes, and not save any money.